Surviving NaNoWriMo: Keeping Traditions

Keeping Traditions.jpg

Even though this will be my first year signing up on the website, I have completed Camp NaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo 4 times, and so I’ve kept some traditions over the years. I find that these traditions are a comfort when the writing becomes difficult and they are a motivator when it’s easier.

If this is your first time doing NaNoWriMo, or you just don’t have any traditions yet, you can try out some of mine! Hopefully as you continue writing in the future, you will come up with some of your own traditions, and spread them to others.

I don’t always get to do all of these when I do NaNoWriMo, but I find that the more of these traditions that I carry on, the better my November goes.

Survival Kit

This is one of my favorites, and it is tremendous fun to put this one together. A NaNoWriMo Survival Kit is a bag or box that contains things you might need to get you through the month.

The idea for a survival kit is not mine, I had learned about it through the librarian that ran the writing group at what used to be my local library. At the beginning of NaNoWriMo she would give them to all the participants. One year she included a NaNoWriMo Bingo card in all of the bags, and I made it my goal to fill out the entire thing.

I will be doing a separate blog post on building a survival kit, and it will be coming out on Sunday, next week. You’ll be able to find most of the inclusions around your house, or buy them cheaply from a local store.

Writing at Midnight

This is a tradition I started when I was younger and told to go to bed earlier. The idea of staying awake until midnight was daring and oh-so-grownup. I convinced my dad to let me stay up until midnight on October 31st so I could start writing at 00:00 on November 1st. I wrote around 3000 words, went to sleep, and wrote another 2000 words when I woke up in the morning.

5000 words on the 1st day is a great head-start, so I continue to stay up until midnight on the night before NaNoWriMo starts. I still haven’t beaten my record of over 5000 words on the first day, but I’m hoping I will this year.

If you decide to do this, I suggest not doing anything very energy draining while you wait for the clock to hit 00:00, or you may not be able to write as much as you would hope to. I also suggest that you don’t push yourself too hard, as you don’t want to burn out on the first day.

Another thing I wouldn’t suggest doing is staying up until midnight if you have other schoolwork or job work that you need to get done on the 1st. Wait until a more convenient day.

Word Sprints

This is another tradition that I picked up from the librarian that I mentioned when I was talking about survival kits. A word sprint is a set amount of time, usually 15 to 30 minutes, that you dedicate to writing as much as you possibly can. It’s a great way to power through the daily word goals, and it can be especially useful if you’re competing with someone.

This November I’ll be doing word sprints every Monday and Friday, so if you want to join me check out my Twitter, as I’ll be announcing word sprints as I do them.

I’ve seen people get over 1000 words written in a 30 minute word sprint, I usually get between 500 and 800. If you think you can beat me, feel free to compete against me. I do love some friendly competition.


Again, a tradition I picked up from my favorite librarian. Write-ins are when you go to a library, cafe, or other place and have an organized writing session with other NaNoWriMo participants. Unfortunately I don’t do this much anymore, but I’m hoping to be able to go to at least one write-in this time.

The great thing about write-ins are the sense of community you get from sharing a physical space with other writers. Even if you don’t get much writing done at a write-in (which I, an introvert who gets tired so quickly around other people, understand) it’s still a great way to connect with other writers. You might even make a new friend.

End Reward

This is a family tradition that my dad and I do whenever we successfully complete NaNoWriMo. Generally the reward is eating out at a favorite restaurant, and buying a carton (or two, maybe even three cartons) of ice cream. We also take a break for a bit in December, to recover from NaNoWriMo burnout.

I think this is a really important tradition, as the reward for successfully completing NaNoWriMo is a great source of motivation. It’s also well deserved after the long hours of writing.

Those were some of my NaNoWriMo traditions that I use to keep things interesting. If you have any of your own NaNoWriMo traditions, let me know in the comments.

3 thoughts on “Surviving NaNoWriMo: Keeping Traditions

  1. I’m right there with you on every one of these traditions. I’ve never had my survival kit items in a bag or box, but just gathered in my writing space. I have a feeling your kit includes things that I’ve never thought of though, so I’ll keep an eye out for your post about it.

    I’m definitely going to go find some NaNoWriMo bingo cards to fill out this year!

    The midnight sprint is one of my *favorite* traditions. I’m a night owl anyway, so staying up late that first night and making use of the early excitement is always so productive!

    Thanks for sharing. Good luck on your NaNo!


    1. Thanks for the lovely comment Kristi! Hopefully this year’s NaNoWriMo goes well for you, and I especially hope you get a productive start when writing at midnight.

      Liked by 1 person

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