NaNo Icons

What the heck is a NaNo Icon?

First, some definitions:

NaNo (ˈnanō/) noun  – short for NaNoWriMo

Icon (ˈīˌkän/) noun – a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something.

NaNo Icons are thus a series of things (animals, objects, numbers, etc.) that NaNoWriMo participants (aka “WriMos”) write into their November novels for various reasons. Sometimes we do it to entertain ourselves. Sometimes we do it because we’re stuck. Sometimes we do it because we were dared to do it in a word war challenge. Below is a list of some of the most prominent icons, but there are many more.



Guilt Monkey

Doing something guilt-worthy during NaNoWriMo will summon the guilt monkeys. Watching TV before you’ve finished your 1,667 words for the day will summon the guilt monkeys. Beginning your NaNo novel before the clock strikes midnight on November 1 will summon the guilt monkeys. Should you falsely report your NaNo word count, a particularly vicious variety, the monocled flying guilt monkey, shall attack, burying his traveling shovel of death into your heart and releasing plot bunnies upon you.


cagededitorCaged Inner Editor

During the magical month of November, your Inner Editor—that doubting, self-critical perfectionist who kills all your darlings and sucks all the joy out of writing—has been confiscated to a cage. There he feverishly types out your writerly shortcoming on a rickety old typewriter to satisfy his critical urges. The good news is he’s locked in a cage! And typing with invisible ink. So you can’t see his castigating critiques. What critiques? Hear no, see no, speak no Inner Editor evil. Huzzah!




An over caffeinated ring-tailed matriarchal Los Angeles leader named Lucky who sometimes doubles as a guilt monkey, loves libraries (especially the Henry Morgan Library at Caltech), and is always fashionably adorned in his crocheted Viking helmet. Is Lucky male or female? We’re not sure anymore. Lucky is happy to model other outfits should they be gifted to her, especially if the colors are NaNoWriMo blue.



Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to become a ‘real novelist’ by writing 1,667 words everyday in November and beyond. Get your Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours in and master your writing craft! Just remember: if you post a dishonest word count the flying monocled guilt monkey will descend upon you.

viking-helmetViking Helmet

“For me, when I don my plastic Viking helmet, I know I’ve left the real world behind and am sailing off to the shores of my fictional Valhalla. The hat reminds me that I am Elsewhere, and I will be staying there until the ship’s reserves of Dr. Pepper and Starbursts run low.” — Chris Baty

tsodTraveling Shovel of Death

Murder by shovel. You get 25,000 words into your novel and find yourself asking: “What is this character’s purpose?” Just add TSoD for instant conflict. It is a bludgeoning tool. Embrace. What is a shovel? What are shovels used for in the human sense? Digging a grave, preemptively or posthumously. Ponder. The shovel can apply to both. Ponder. Should the shovel be pictured on the cover of your novel? What does that say about your story? Ponder. When you are finished with this homicidal icon, don’t forget to set it free so that it can travel to the next needy writer’s novel.



The trebuchet launches mischief and mayhem into your story with medieval style. The primitive raw destructive power of this siege weapon from the Middle Ages is far from obsolete when it comes to breaking down the walls of writer’s block. Fling watermelons at parapets or your protagonist’s enemies out an airlock. Enjoy. Another use for the trebuchet is booting negative people from your writing group because they’re not helping themselves or you.

plot-bunnyPlot Bunny

Beware the plot bunny. Beware the plot bunny. They come in hundreds of varieties from the Lop-eared Sitting Around Talking Shorthair to the Luuuuuvvvv Bunny. These elusive creatures typically lead the writer away from the main story they’re trying to tell. Many a writer has chased the plot bunny down a hole into a subplot that leads them either to a Wonderland of fruition or complete Jabberwockied annoyance, desperation, sadness, and death. Much emoting. Emote. Emote


museThe Muse 

Awaken the Muse. If you chain yourself to a chair for at least two hours a day you will awaken the muse. If you write 1,667 words a day (no matter how bad they may be), you will awaken the muse. If you stare at a blank screen long enough, you will awaken the muse. If you stare at your writing buddies’ soaring word counts, you will awaken muse. If you read a Chris Baty pep talk every morning from the No Plot, No Problem Kit, you will awaken the muse.

eleventh-hourEleventh Hour

It’s never too late to NaNo. Is it November 25th and you have zero words on your word count progress bar? Only 50,000 more words to go! You may think the war is lost, but there is always the eleventh hour. All one needs to accomplish anything is a deadline. Even if you fail the test ten times, you can always beg for the eleventh hour.