8 Tips For Winning NaNoWriMo From A Writer Who Has Won

Woman writing on a laptop


Nov. 1 2019, Published 8:45 a.m. ET

Share to XShare to FacebookShare via EmailShare to LinkedIn

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo/NaNo, is my favorite time of year. I write all day for a living – articles, blog posts, and other non-fiction. When NaNo hits, I tend to forget the real world and dive into whatever storytelling adventure I have in mind. 2019 makes 10 years of participating in NaNo–and I’ve won all but the first year I tried it.

Here are some things I’ve learned as I’ve plowed my way through the universe of drafting a novel in 30 days.

Plan Everything Ahead

It probably seems obvious but planning ahead can make all the difference in reaching your 50,000-word goal. Planning ahead involves more than just outlining; and it’s okay if you’re not an outliner, being a pantser is an equally valid method for this madness. You need to look ahead at your whole calendar for November to get things in shape for spending unusual amounts of time in front of a computer screen.

Things I do to help plan ahead:

  • Meal prep for the whole month
  • Ask a family member or grocery delivery service to shop for me
  • Batch cook weekly
  • Outline my novel as much as needed before October 30
  • Choose what time(s) I’ll write each day
  • Decide how many words I’ll shoot for each day
  • Set dates with friends for workouts

Create Your Playlists

If music helps inspire your craft, getting a playlist set up ahead of time is a quick, easy way to help motivate you for National Novel Writing Month. I usually work from about four playlists loosely based on my theme of each novel. For example, this year, I’m working on a book set in the 1830s Old West. My Spotify playlists include:

  • Old western style music – for general scenes in the genre
  • Deeply moving music – for the dramatic scenes
  • Joyful modern music – for the happy scenes
  • Angry scene music – for those scenes filled with anger and frustration for my characters
Article continues below advertisement
Earbuds on a laptop

Find Writing Prompts to Work With

One of the most effective tools I’ve found for my writing sessions in the nine previous years that I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo, is a collection of writing prompts vaguely based on my story’s theme. These prompts can be anything that inspires, including Pinterest quotes, thematic images, prompts from writing primers at the library, writing exercises from websites geared toward helping writers, or even character profiles for your heroines.

Article continues below advertisement

Keep Active All November Long

When NaNoWriMo hits, and writing takes over the brain, it’s important to keep that body active. I personally use the Pomodoro technique for getting my body moving on short breaks in the middle of a long writing session. This activity helps your health, but it also helps your brain for better writing sessions.

Connect with workout buddies or join a walking group. Staying active will help get off your butt during the intensity of writing 50,000 words in 30 days on top of everyday life, work, and relationships.

two women jogging
Article continues below advertisement

Figure Out Your Word Updating Style

Updating that word count can be motivating for many, but it’s a little bit like weighing in when you’re trying to lose weight. For some, constant updates help to motivate. For others, it can be legalistic and discouraging. Decide within the first couple of days what works best for you.

Write Someplace Out of the Ordinary

Instead of just writing at home or sneaking in sessions at the office, try getting out and writing in environments where you don’t normally find yourself. Try a quiet section at the library, a favorite coffee shop, a bookstore, a restaurant, or even a park, if the weather’s warm enough. A different environment can really help boost the mood and cut the distractions.

Article continues below advertisement

Turn Off The Internet While You Write

woman writing on typewriter

One of the best things you can do for yourself while you write is to push that airplane mode button and disconnect while you’re writing. If you can’t think of a word, need to research something more, or just don’t know what to write, put a placeholder or parenthetical thought and come back to it. You can come back and edit things after you’ve hit that 50,000-word target.

You Can Do This

50,000 words in a single month is a lot, for sure, but tens of thousands of writers win it every year. Breathe deep, clear out space in your calendar for writing time, and just write. Don’t edit, keep active, and reach out to the awesome NaNoWriMo community in the forums when you’re feeling discouraged. You got this!

Ambition Delivered.

Our weekly email newsletter is packed with stories that inspire, empower, and inform, all written by women for women. Sign up today and start your week off right with the insights and inspiration you need to succeed.

By: Rita Pike

Rita Juanita Pike is the granddaughter of Jerrie Mock, the first woman to pilot an airplane around the world. Rita has taken inspiration from her grandmother’s life and flight and pursued many of her own dreams in theater, podcasting, and novel writing. She now writes about travel, pets, faith, and the arts. She’s happily married to Matt, and faithfully serves a very fluffy kitten queen, Lady Stardust.

Latest The Main Agenda News and Updates

    Link to InstagramLink to FacebookLink to XLinkedIn IconContact us by Email

    Opt-out of personalized ads

    Black OwnedFemale Founder