I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Friday, December 30, 2011

No Longer a MBTWriMo Rookie: 8 Things I Learned Through MBTWriMo

Our 2011 MBTWriMo event? Now history -- but I'm so glad I did it. Though I've been an English teacher for years, when I heard about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I was too smart to crank out the ridiculous number of words required daily to qualify. After all, how could that produce quality? I feared producing something closer to the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction contest of the worst novel openings based on that author's 1830 effort:
"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents -- except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies . . . )"

That contest's website inviting "Wretched Writing Welcome" is one I don't want to win.
But the MBTWrimo Celebration is a more manageable horse. In fact, I didn't get bucked off and mostly enjoyed the ride. If 2011 MBT WriMo participants planned and followed a synopsis at all, we reached some destination goals. And participating taught me several important things:

  1. What I previously believed was my maximum daily word count wasn't. In fact, I frequently went far beyond it. The actual needed daily average of 1677 words is quite passable -- discovering that alone is worth my MBTWriMo effort.
  2. Constructive thinking and mulling ideas over before writing does produce more written words when we sit before our computers.
  3. Speaking of computers, if you are close to replacing one when November rolls around, do it before MBTWriMo.Changing horses midstream means getting wet -- as I did. Side note:Check your  monitor's brightness because too high a setting can cause eye strain and/or headaches. 
  4. If your eyeglasses/contacts prescription needs changing, don't do that midstream, either. Arrange before or after -- not during. 
  5. Hit Save often. Email manuscripts to yourself (and/or friends.), place in Dropbox, plus back up on an external drive back up. You'll be glad you did. Don't ask me how sad you'll be if you don't . . .
  6. Strengthen your writing muscles slowly, like guitar players build up finger calluses for playing. And once you reach 50k words and type "The End," do it with a grand flourish and a smile.
  7. Thank the Lord for his inspiring help.
  8. Rest.
If you participated in NaNoWriMo or MBTWriMo, I'd love to hear the secrets to your success -- what you learned during November 2011. If you didn't, what did you learn along the writing road during the past year? 

Delores Topliff


  1. Thanks, Beth, for being my Twitter buddy through November. You don't know how big a deal it was to me to have just 3 women keeping up with the #MBTwrimo hashtag and responding.

    I was reminded I do *so* much better in community than alone, that goals matter, and mean something to me, and that I'm actually capable of showing up every day.

    That last one was the most meaningful, because I keep telling myself I want this "writing thing" to be real, but had never been able to convinse myself I could take it seriously.

  2. The first time I did NaNoWriMo, I completed it, prompting Hubby to buy me a laptop. He realized just how serious I was about this writing thing.

    I did not participate this year due to other writing obligations, but I found pre-planning gives me less time pondering and more time writing.

    Also, finding time to write was quite possible when I planned calendar events and meals ahead of time. Getting the family to pitch in to help around the house allowed me to spend more time writing too.

    My biggest secret weapon for NaNoWriMo is my egg timer. I downloaded one from the Internet, but you can use a kitchen timer too. I set the timer for 30 minutes at a time and just wrote--whatever flowed out of my fingertips. With NaNoWriMo, it was quantity over quality so I wrote and tried to beat my previous word count. It's also great to have a word count buddy to help you stay accountable too.

    Wonderful post, Dee. I'm so glad you shared your NaNo lessons with us. Oh, and did you know you can set the autosave on your Word documents? I think mine are set to save every 2 minutes...I learned the hard way.

  3. Great tips! This was my third year to do NaNoWriMo. I've learned that there really aren't any secrets. :) It's still hard and sometimes I want to give up, but I just have to keep pushing through and writing one word at a time.

  4. Dee:
    So many good, practical tips for NaNoWriMo and MBTWriMo! Even though I didn't reach my goal (a long-term change in writing focus derailed me), I did learn that pre-plotting my writing helped a lot when it came to producing word count.
    And thanks, Amy Jane, for the encouragement. Connecting with other writers during NaNo and WriMo makes all the difference to me too!

  5. Wow, I love these comments above and learned some good "saver" tips myself. Thanks. Maybe this kind of major writing challenge is like all the preparing steps for building up strength to run a marathon--right shoes, steadily increasing stamina, keeping our eyes on the goal and not giving up 'til we get there . . .

  6. Dee, great tips! I'm sorry you learned some of those lessons the hard way. I found that planning out my story ahead of time made it possible for me to just sit and write at my early morning writing times. I exceeded my goal. I got excited enough about the results that I hope to do it again next year. Who knew I could write 50K+ in a month?

    Loved your tips. :) Happy New Year!

  7. This was my first year for the NaNoWriMo. I learned that if I turned off the internet connection and forced myself to try to write 1,000 words in 1 hour that I would get so much more done than if I just had all the time in the world. It was a great experience and so much fun to be sitting on the other side of it with a novel at near completion.

  8. I think 1,000 an hr. is awesome & I'm hoping to do it again, too, but w/ more plot outline and maybe less literal exciting historical research under my belt--more broad overview & less detail. I appreciate everyone's comments :) I even had enough eye strain from new computer's bright setting, I went back to eye specialist who thankfully found no problem--then I finally wised up.

  9. Dee--Great post. I save my work often and save to disc every few chapters, too. Also, I have my plot pretty tight before I start writing.

    Aren't those Bulwer-Lytton contests a scream?! They have us here at the library ROTFL every year!

    Happy New Year!


  10. Great post, Dee. I didn't do NaNo, but hoping to next year. I learned #5 the hard way too! Now I have Word set to autosave but I also manually save every so often. I also email my wip to myself every day.

  11. Those are all great tips & it might be fun to win the Bulwer-Lytton contest--but only if we intended to by purposely writing very purple prose. Thanks for your entries and wishing you good writing progress and success. Yes, God bless and Happy NEW Year in every sense of the word to each of you.