November was National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and I did a talk with fellow Off-Campus Writers’ Workshop (OCWW) member Margot McMahon in October on how to prepare for success

My friend, Lynette Hoag, attended and took some notes. At the end of November, she reached out to thank me and offered to write up a little something on what she called the Hollie Bible.

I’d never had a bible named after me before, so how could I refuse?! This is what she wrote:

You know how some people need Oprah, Iyanla Vanzant or Suze Orman to fix their lives? Turns out, I needed Hollie Smurthwaite to fix my writing life. In October 2022 I attended her seminar on NaNoWriMo and just completed my first successful NaNo after three failed attempts! I have created the ‘Ten Commandments of NaNoWriMo’. I call them “The Hollie Bible.” Yes, some of these are mine, but remember, she’s the reason I can say I completed a 50K novel in twenty-eight days.

1. PrepTober (Hollie Bible)

Make a plan or . . .

2. Bank your words (Hollie Bible)

Write more than 1667 when you can or give yourself a head-start in October

3. Create main character outlines

It makes it easier to keep writing when you know your hero prefers red wine

4. Create side character outlines

They add color and more opportunities to write backstories

5. Plan out your daily writing schedule

There are sure to be days when you cannot write. Be prepared

6. Break from the Novel format and “Free write”(Hollie Bible)

Write dialog, sex scenes, alternate universe scenes when you get stuck or blocked

7. Resist editing

This is all me. I love to edit as I go.

8. Follow a formula or format for your chosen genre

I used “Romancing the Beat.” It’s a built in outline for a pantser like me.

9. Keep your inspiration near

I kept my book cover or pictures of my inspirational angel on my desktop.

10. When you daydream, daydream your way out of writing dilemmas.

When is the best time to say “I love you and want you back?” before or after you’ve tied your ex to the Saint Andrew’s Cross 🤔

Most times, I think, we never really know the affect of what we do, so this was a marvelous affirmation of my advice. These moments make me so happy.

If you’re a writer, maybe this advice will help you not just for NaNoWriMo, but for any writing task you set for yourself. Prepare for success and you’re more likely to find it.

Find out more about Lynette here.

Lynette S. Hoag is a creative writer and lawyer. She writes fantasy, fantasy romance, speculative fiction, creative nonfiction, and horror. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, and The Order of Respectable Quill Drivers, formed 
by Mary Robinette Kowal.

Her work has appeared in: Love Like This, published by United Faedom PublishingSLAY! Stories of Vampire Noire, the Alphabet of Horror Series, “G” is for Genies, Stonecrop Review Vol 3: Sky, Powder Ski Magazine, and Erato. She is married to an adrenaline junkie engineer. Together, she and her husband share one creative, energetic son, a cat and doodle. She lives, loves, and laughs in the eclectic, diverse community of Oak Park, Illinois. She can be found on Twitter @LeftBrainMom1 and on Facebook as LeftBrainMom or anywhere there are butterflies.

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