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As you may have noticed, we’ve been a little thin on posts here at Mystic Cooking HQ this past month. That’s because Kati, Stephanie, and I are all hard at work on our Nanowrimo creations. But I’m taking a break from my hard-earned word count to share another tip with all of you joining us in this crazy noveling adventure.

Last week, Stephanie wrote about ways to fail at Nano. Today, I’d like to share one sure-fire way to win.

My first year trying to do Nanowrimo I failed utterly. My second year, I managed to scrape a win, mostly because I made a bet with Kati and a friend of ours that if we failed to complete our novel during the month, we’d have to do something embarrassing.

Since then, I’ve found public humiliation to be the most effective motivator, and I’ve won every year I’ve participated since that disastrous beginning. Nothing like a little negative reinforcement. 🙂

Gordy being publicly humiliated

Gordy being publicly humiliated


Want to give it a try? Here are some of the guidelines we came up with when determining our potential punishments:

1. It has to be embarrassing…

You have to choose a punishment that would truly embarrass you. For instance, the first year I won we decided any Nano loser amongst us would have to dress up like Harry Potter and go to the movies…but not on opening night, when it could be considered acceptable. No, it had to be later that opening week, and the person in costume would have to arrive early and stand out in front of the theater. And, of course, we’d tell all their friends, too. Nothing like an audience.

2. …But not too embarrassing.

See above. It’s a little bit embarrassing to be the only one in a costume when no one else is. Turns out it’s also a little bit embarrassing to be sitting next to your friend who failed Nano and is now dressed as Harry Potter, too…but it’s not so bad. Bad enough that I didn’t want to have to do it, not so bad that I wouldn’t follow through. Which brings me to the next rule.

3. You absolutely have to be willing to do it. No exceptions.

Don’t choose something like shaving your head if you know you won’t follow through. An empty threat of public humiliation isn’t going to cut it when you’re trying to cram in a full novel in 30 days. You need something genuine.

4. It needs to be an almost immediate punishment, to be carried out in the beginning of December. 

If it’s something too far in the future, the threat doesn’t feel so immediate, and won’t carry the same amount of weight. Plus it gives you and your friends time to wiggle out of it – don’t let this happen. If you fail, you suffer the consequences…right away.

5. It works best as a pact.

Earlier I talked about attending write-ins, and last week Stephanie discussed the importance of having other writers join you in your Nanowrimo mission. I think this is really key, and the best way to bond with your fellow Nanoers is to make a public humiliation pact – this way you can get the best of both worlds. You can crush your word count goals and potentially get to watch one of your buddies do something ridiculous. Win-win-win.

What do you think? Have any good public humiliation suggestions? I’m always looking for more creative ways to torture myself and my writing friends, so please share. 🙂