There is a little more than a week left in November, and if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, that might cause you to spiral in panic. One week left in November means one week left to finish your 50,000 word rough rough draft of a novel. And if you’re anything like me, it’s near the end when I usually start thinking about restarting an idea or giving up entirely (depends on what end of the panic spectrum I’m on). But it’s also when I drill down on research, inspiration and pretty much anything to get me to just write.
So, in the spirit of that, I’ve thrown together a list of books that have helped me and hopefully will help you. These books will be especially useful when you unearth your NaNo drafts and attempt to make something of them. The books you’ll find below are chock full of fantastic advice and helpful tidbits on creativity, brainstorming, plotting, and everything you need to create the best possible novel once you get the bones of NaNo written. Use them wisely, throw away whatever advice doesn’t work for you, and most important of all, have fun during the rest of the month and after. Remember why you loved this idea enough to spend a whole month speed-writing it and keep that tucked away as you edit, rewrite, and throw away what you’ve written.
Good luck! You got this!
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
I recommend this book to just about everyone, whether or not your writing. My first serious NaNo, I read a chapter of this night and then wrote more than the required word limit for the day. I was inspired and invigorated. Elizabeth Gilbert’s words are soothing, especially when my creative process to just about anxiously thinking about writing until I actually write.
Story Genius:How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere) by Lisa Cron
You might not be ready to get into the weeds yet with plotting or craft but this book can be helpful for reference and is a definite must read as you get deeper into the writing process.
Embrace Your Weird: Face Your Fears and Unleash Creativity by Felicia Day
I’ve been a huge fan of Felicia Day since her appearance as a slayer in Buffy and I love that this book is about helping you overcome creative roadblocks, things that occur a lot during NaNoWriMo, even though you’re not supposed to think too much about it and just write.
Me, Myself, & Ideas: The Ultimate Guide to Brainstorming Solo by Carrie Anton and Jessica Nordskog
A lot of NaNoWriMo (and writing in general) is solitary. The communities and forums are great for accountability and starting out the process but when you’re in the thick of it, it’s up to you alone to write. This book can help with brainstorming alone and getting the ideas flowing when you’re in a time crunch.
Brave The Page by Rebecca Stern and Grant Faulkner
An official NaNoWriMo book such as this could give you just the boost you need to get you through any word slump you might find yourself in.
How To Write A Page-Turner: Craft A Story Your Readers Can’t Put Down by Jordan E. Rosenfeld
I do love a great writing craft book and I especially love what Writer’s Digest publishes. This helpful guide provides useful tips about creating tension and stakes, something that you might not be focusing on as you plug away at that 50K word count.
Dear Ally, How Do You Write A Book? By Ally Carter
While a few books on this list are a bit more craft-based, Dear Ally focuses on advice from a bestselling YA author in a fun and easy Q&A format that any NaNoWriMo participant can flip through between writing.
Save The Cat! Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody
Save The Cat by Blake Snyder was essential for me in college and this updated version for novelists is essential reading for any aspiring writer. Jessica Brody takes readers through the beats of plotting and the the story types that could be helpful with story arcs on the go during NaNoWriMo.
Damn Fine Story: Mastering The Tools of A Powerful Narrative by Chuck Wendig
I LOVE Chuck Wendig’s blog, Terrible Minds, and often keep a tab open on my phone to read through when I’m feeling stuck or uninspired. Chuck Wendig’s words are like a kick in the butt for anyone and this book has definitely motivated me to stop the NaNo fueled pity party and just write.
Murder Your Darlings: And Other Writing Advice From Artistotle to Zinsser by Roy Peter Clark
This book, out in late January, will be the perfect read after you’ve let your NaNo sit for a few months. Brimming with the best of the best writing tips from “Aristotle to Zinsser” the book features that sweet spot between advice and personal anecdotal evidence to guide writers in everything from language and audience.