Recipe for a NaNoWriMo Novel (November Theme, Sarah Dooley)

Hello! It's November, and what does that mean? It's National Novel Writing Month!

If you aren't familiar with this project, the idea is that people all over the world take time out of their daily lives to sweat, cry, procrastinate, tear up pages, hide under desks, guzzle coffee, and ultimately churn out a 50,000-word novel between November 1 and November 30. Although I'm a novelist year-round, there is just something about November -- the energy! The camaraderie! The typos! -- that brings me back for NaNoWriMo year after year.

It works for me -- after all, Livvie Owen Lived Here and Body of Water were both NaNoWriMo novels. So, since we're talking about recipes this month, I've taken a moment to pin down just what it is that goes into a fully-baked NaNoWriMo novel.


You will need:
-An empty notebook, blank computer file, or some other method of recording words
-A functional coffee pot and a supply of coffee that would last you at least 60 non-November days
-A character (generic is fine)
-50,000 words

-A plot (some swear by this; others find that it is not necessary to the baking process)
-A little dialogue (for flavor)
-Some punctuation (can be added after novel comes out of the oven)

1. Open notebook/computer file.
2. Don't panic.
3. Separate words into 1,667-word chunks. Set aside.
4. Slowly sift character, coffee, plot, and punctuation onto the page using one of your 1,667-word chunks.
5. Repeat daily for 30 days.
6. If you are still following this recipe, you are a rock star. If you deviated at step 4, you can still salvage this thing.
7. Recalculate your word-batches and continue to sift with coffee and tears.
8. Stir furiously with nonsensical plot twists from the Internet community.
9. If you pray, this would not be a bad time. Also, buy more coffee.
10. Search and replace main character's name, Mary, with Mary Beth, which ups your word count by 67 words. Do the same for each character. Refer to all characters by full names and titles.
11. Name all your chapters.
12. Now give all your chapters alternate names. Then recalculate the daily batches of words still needed to reach your goal.
13. Coffee.
14. Continue to sift character, plot, unnecessary descriptive passages, coffee, and energy drinks onto the page until --
15. The novel begins to set.
16. Keep going.
17. Let the novel take over.
18. See where it takes you.
19. This! This is somewhere you didn't know you were going to end up!
20. Bake until November 30.
21. Go to sleep.

And now, a recipe for the only food you'll have time to eat if you're writing the above novel:


1. Place bread in the toaster.
2. Forget you have a toaster.
3. Wait three hours.
4. Gnaw on cold crusts.
5. Order pizza.

Happy noveling!


  1. Too funny! I've added yoga and walking to the process this year after wondering why I was getting so sore sitting....

  2. I know ALL about that NANOWRIMO food recipe! ;)


Post a Comment