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Only 45 Shopping Days Until NaNoWriMo!

Hacks for Hacks - Sense of Humor RequiredWarning: Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody.

It seems like National Novel Writing Month comes earlier every year. Target and Walmart installed massive displays of pencils, pens, erasers, and notebooks back in August. Barnes & Noble is selling coffee mugs and Moleskines like they’re going out of style (or going out of business). Literary podcasts have already started playing “One Million Keystrokes,” “I saw Mommy Kissing the Dropbox Gremlin,” and all the other classic NaNo carols.

I know, I know, NaNoWriMo has gotten way too commercial. But between you and me? I love that time of year when I don my fall sweaters and pull the ol’ blog out of storage so I can hang my humblebrag posts about my daily productivity. There’s also the ritual of pretending to listen to members of my writing group tell me about their WIPs. Or the bittersweet cancelation of a promising third date so I can stay home and write 600 words of dreck. Truly a magical time. That’s why I want to share these tips on how to navigate the hustle and bustle of every writer’s favorite time of year.

Don We Now Our Writing Apparel

Whether it’s T-shirts emblazoned with Shakespeare quotations or coffee mugs that threaten to write you into the author’s novel, all writing merchandise is designed to remind us of the power of words, and make us forget that a lot of writers spend more on merch than they ever earn in royalties. Much like the ugly Christmas-sweater party, there’s something edifying about getting together with one’s fellow scribes and feigning appreciation of trite T-shirt slogans like, “Writing is my superpower,” and “I write to give the voices in my head something productive to do.”

Start Your Novel Now

We’re halfway through September, which means it’s almost October, better known as Secretly Start Working on your NaNoWriMo Novel Month. You probably know it by its acronym, SSWOYNANOWRIMONNOMO (which, by coincidence, is also a curse in a long-forgotten tongue, so don’t say it out loud lest you fall into the dreamless sleep of a thousand years, which will wreck your daily word count). Here’s the thing: Nobody is going to stop you from starting your NaNoWriMo novel early. Yes, I know the NaNoWriMo songs and stories about what happens to early starters, but we’re adults here. We can admit that Halifax the October Hobgoblin won’t steal all the vowels from your keyboard; that the Dropbox Gremlin isn’t going to replace entire chapters of your book with its erotic haiku while you sleep; and that the Eternal Editor will not demand you rewrite the entire manuscript if you ever want to see your doggo alive again. These are just stories other writers wrote to try to prevent cheating and to maybe turn into mediocre children’s books. Just start your book. Nobody’s going to yell at you. We’d all like to believe Santa Claus is real and that we can write a publishable novel in thirty days. You’ll learn to live with it the same way you came to terms with the fact that your parents did all the work on your science fair project.

typewriter adorned with Christmas lights
photo by grapefruitmoon

Get Those Inspirational Blog Posts Ready

A recent study showed that fully one-third of all words written during November are writing-advice articles for NaNoWriMo, probably. This tradition is as beloved as the school Christmas pageant or any given Charlie Brown holiday special. There’s no reason you can’t join in the fun as well by writing a few top-ten lists, inspirational articles, #amwriting threads on Twitter, and on and on. You could theoretically write a whole book of NaNoWriMo advice, but the Dropbox Gremlin would definitely mess with a project like that.

Make a List, Check it Twice

I refer to, of course, the list of excuses you’ll make when you give up writing your book after two weeks. “Things are crazy at work,” is an all-time classic, but for the last few years, I’ve been forced to use, “The Dropbox Gremlin replaced three of my chapters with erotic haiku.”

What are your favorite NaNoWriMo traditions? Let us know in the comments!

About Bill Ferris

After college, Bill Ferris left Nebraska for Florida to become a rich and famous rock star. Failing that, he picked up the pen to become a rich and famous novelist. He now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and looks forward to a life of poverty and ridicule.


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About Mary Ellen Bellusci

Mary Ellen Bellusci is a longtime resident of Baltimore, Maryland... A foodie, traveler, writer, and pursuer of happiness.