What is NaNoWriMo?
If you’re a writer, especially if you’re a member of the Twitter #writingcommunity, chances are you already know what NaNoWriMo is. You’ve probably seen people talking about it (or, rather, tweeting about it) for the last several weeks. And the closer we get to November, the more #nanowrimo tweets you’re gonna see!
But, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s an annual creative writing challenge where writers attempt to write 50,000 words during the month of November. (50,000 words in 30 days equals approximately 1,700 words a day, by the way.)
That’s a tall order! I know. As someone who doesn’t necessarily write well under pressure, it’s quite daunting to think about actually.
But, lately, I’ve been really itching to get back into creative writing. I’ve spent so much time and energy writing blog posts that the fiction stories in my head have fallen to the wayside. Don’t get me wrong – I love blogging, but I think I’ll give NaNoWriMo a try this year, just to get those creative juices flowing again.
So, if you’re thinking of participating too, here are some tips for making it through.
9 Tips for NaNoWriMo Success
1. Do it Just For You
Doing anything for someone else is always going to set you up for failure. Even if you end up finding “success,” you’ll be miserable in the process.
But that goes double for any sort of creative challenge! When you’re aiming for creativity, you need to really feel inspired and interested in the project. Otherwise, it’s a wasted effort.
2. Don’t Think About the End Project
Similarly, if you go into this challenge with the sole intention of “writing a novel,” you’re putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on yourself. And pressure is the antidote for creativity.
So, don’t think about the end. I’d argue that you shouldn’t think about the actual word count, either. Even though the official goal of the challenge is to write 50,000 words, the real goal is to get into the habit of writing every day.
And you probably have your own personal reasons for doing it, too. Maybe you want to push yourself, hold yourself accountable, or (if you’re like me,) start writing again.
Set aside the 50,000 word “goal” for now and your own intentions guide you.
3. Think About It Ahead of Time
Maybe you’re the kind of person who can decide to partake in a month-long challenge like this on November 1st, but for most of us, we need to do some mental prep.
Be prepared by thinking about it before the start date. Try to think about the 5 W’s (and 1 H) to prepare.
Why are you doing it? Think about your personal reasons for joining the challenge.
What do you want to write about? Do you want to start a new project? Pick up an unfinished one?
When and where will you write? Will you write every day? Do you have a certain place you want to go – like a coffee shop?
Who will you tell about this goal? Do you have a support group or a trusted friend to hold you accountable?
How will you write? Do you have certain tools that help inspire you? A playlist, a favorite snack, essential oils? How can you create a space that will help you succeed?
Related Read: Creating a Room of my own with Poster Store
4. Develop a General Outline First
A big part of thinking about NaNoWriMo ahead of time is planning out what you will write. Now, I’m more of a pantser than a plotter, but having a general outline of the story and characters is always helpful.
Normally, I only write down the basic premise, some major plot points, and information about the characters. But you can make this planning stage as extensive (or minimal) as you want.
There are a ton of resources out there for those who like to go in-depth with plotting or character development.
5. Schedule Time to Write
Unless you’re a full-time writer, chances are you don’t have the ability to write all day. So, to hold yourself accountable, schedule out your writing time.
Maybe you can schedule 1-3 hours every day. Or maybe you would rather try and schedule 5-6 hours a few days a week. Just do whatever works for you.
6. Write with No Distractions
This is definitely a BIG one – especially for me. I typically have about 5 browser tabs open at any given time. When I write my blog posts, I’m never just writing the post. I’m also finding good stock photos, fixing the layout, creating pins on Canva, checking Twitter…. You get the picture.
And that works for blogging, but creative writing is a different beast altogether. It’s really easy to get sidetracked, so during your scheduled writing time, open up your Word Document and close everything else. Stay off the internet, put away your phone (or put it on silence) and ask those around you to let you work uninterrupted for a period of time.
7. Edit (and Research!) Later
I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m writing, I do a lot of research. Some of it is productive and necessary (like, say, looking up information about a character’s profession or historical dates for accuracy.) But, other times, it’s more of a time waster (like, for example, looking up specific houses or restaurants to describe.)
Either way, it’s really easy to get lost in the nuances of researching your subject. You set out to find out the right date of the 1998 Academy Awards Ceremony and you end up scrolling photos of the red-carpet looks for 30 minutes.
Same goes for editing. It’s all a long process – for now, use your time to just write. The research can wait.
8. Take Breaks
When I’m really in the zone with my writing, I can easily write for hours without stopping. But, if I hit a creative road block, I find that I start to get stressed out and stare at the clock.
For times like that, give yourself a break and come back to the work. Get up and take a walk, read for a bit, or watch a favorite TV show. Sometimes taking your mind off of things will help spark more inspiration.
9. Celebrate Your Wins and Ignore Your Losses
It’s so easy to start comparing yourself to other people. You see someone on Twitter saying that they wrote 3,000 words that day and you start to beat yourself up for your lousy 300. That’s not helpful!
Instead, celebrate the fact that you’re doing it in the first place. Starting a project like NaNoWriMo is intense and that alone is worth celebrating.
Related Read: 10 Easy Ways to Practice Self Love (Even When You Feel Like Shit)
The most important part is that you just start. Whether you end up with 50,000 words by December 1 or not, just get writing! Use it as a way to fuel your motivation or to hold yourself accountable. Or, use it as a way to start writing your next book. Or, just use it as a fun writing challenge.
Again, just do what works for you.
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Do you have any other writing tips that work for you? Let me know in the comments below.
As always, thanks for reading! (And, forgive me in advance if I’m less active in November.)
Pin this Post for Later!
I have been wanting to participate for so long but there’s always something coming up, but making myself a promise to try it next year. It’s not much the word counts that daunts me but finding the time to sit and not feel bad for not doing other blog related things or working. These are all amazing tips and will keep this to look back at next year x
I totally agree – I think it can be really overwhelming to put pressure on yourself. Hopefully you try it one of these years though!
I have heard about this for years, but never participated. I don’t think this is the year to join in, but I wish I could. Thanks for sharing your tips and giving me something to think about.
I’ve never done it either – And I probably won’t again this year lol
Great advice! I’m debating whether or not to participate this year.
You should give it a shot!
I haven’t ever participated in this but I know a number of people who are so I will share your advice with them — some great tips here in general too!
Thank you!! That’s always appreciated
hello! WOW I have never heard of this challenge but it sounds amazing! I will need to give it a try but it sounds insane to write that much but I gotta do it for me just like you said. Thanks for sharing great tips as always! Alicia
It definitely can be! It’s a lot of writing, and if you’re writing fiction, writers block can last FOREVER. Definitely let me know how it goes for you though!
Wow, I have never heard of this before! While my blog posts are usually around the 2000 word mark, I don’t think I could do that every day for 30 days! I’m so interested to see how it goes for you and love the tips you’ve shared for others who are doing the challenge 🙂
We’ll see if I end up trying to get the full 50,000 words or not, lol!
I’m participating this year! I have plotted it all out and am just going to go for it!
I do have a 4 month old baby too – so let’s see how far I get lol
Then anything you do right now is heroic!! I remember those infant days lol
Good advice all the way around. I’m like that with my writing too. I make sure I take breaks and step away when I need to bue when I am in the zone I just focus on that.
Yeah, I have a harder time taking breaks when I need to. But sometimes when it’s really flowing, you don’t want to stop.
Love these tips! I especially think the ‘Do it just for you’ one is helpful.
Absolutely! It’s best not to put too much pressure on it.
i’ve never participated in this challenge but it sounds like so much pressure hahah!! this was definitely full of some great tips in completely this challenge! thank you for sharing !!
jessica | http://www.overdressedblogger.com
I think it can either be a lot of pressure or a good way to break through some creative road blocks. But thanks for reading!
I never heard of this before, but it has inspired me to think about writing a little something when I can fit the space around uni. Maybe it’ll be a new creative outlet for me.
Go for it!
Thanks for telling about NaNoWriMo. I had a confusion about this term since fee weeks.
Loved the article.
Thanks! I always appreciate hearing that.
What an amazing challenge. I’ve written a few creative pieces recently, but the word count is daunting and also writing every single day would be difficult for me I think. For the blog, I write when I feel like it, mostly.
I wish anyone taking part the best of luck and I am excited to see everyone’s progress on Twitter.
I’m the same way – I think trying to pay too much attention to word count can make it a lot harder
I have never participated in NaNoWriMo, though it is always something I have wanted to do. As a writer, the idea of working toward something all month long gets my creative writing mojo flowing and, every year, I feel more inspired to take part.
Love your tip for putting aside the word count goal and focusing on intention!
Thanks for sharing. 🙂
I feel the same way – I always want to but I haven’t done it yet.
i won’t be participating in this writing challenge. but i think it’s great for all writers and i commend anyone who is participating this year. good luck and happy writing!
Thank you! It’s definitely an intense challenge and I don’t know that I’ll attempt the full 50,000 words, but I think it’s a cool idea.
good tips but I would argue that you should do research before you begin writing. if you don’t do research then how can you write effectively? or you might end up writing it incorrectly.. making you ultimately scrap that bit of prose. so to avoid wasting time, definitely research in october during preptober month. at least that is my 2cents
That’s definitely a good idea! Usually when I write, though, I end up doing more research than I expected so if I’m wanting to focus on writing, I need to save my extra research until later.
This is my first year blogging and the first time I have been introduced to this. I did some posting for Blogtober and was looking to participate in nanowrimo this year but I am hesitant. I do have an idea so I may run with it. Thanks for the tips!
I say definitely give it a try! If it’s not for you, you can always stop.
Not participating this year but I have participated in the past. I’m taking a creative writing class in University this semester and I’m curious to see what we’ll do for the month of November. Thanks for sharing the tips!
Creative writing classes are so much fun!