• Sarah Leonard

10 Steps to Completing NaNoWriMo

Updated: Jun 25, 2019


National Novel Writing Month: the time when writers decide it's time to die, aka. November. It sounds impossible, writing 50,000 words in one month. But, if you manage your time well and build a strong support group, it’s completely doable. NaNoWriMo officially starts November 1st and ends November 30th. This will be my second year, and I’ve learned a lot from the first round. So, here are ten things you should keep in mind when joining in on the NaNoWriMo fun.

1. Create your daily goals

At the bottom of this, I posted a calendar that can help you keep on track with a daily wordcount. It’s important you try and stick to that daily goal as firmly as possible once you actually start. It’s likely you’ll have days you won’t make that count and you’ll have to add on to another day. But if that keeps happening, eventually that daily count could get up to 3,000 words, and that’s incredibly overwhelming.

2. For my planners: draft outlines beforehand

Last year, I was rewriting a novel, which meant I already had an idea of what to put in the chapters. This year, I prepared a chapter-by-chapter outline. That way, when I start, all I have to worry about is writing, not plotting. I’d recommend you do the same thing.

3. Join the NaNoWriMo website

The website is SO VITAL. Signup is free, and it helps you track your progress, set your goals, connect with other participants, join in on write-ins both online and in your area, and you get badges and awards for your achievements. It’s your ultimate support system. At the end, if you complete 50,000 words, you get a certificate! When I made it, I also ordered myself a celebration mug from the store.

4. Form a group of fellow participants

You can either do this without the site or with it. But having other people going through this challenge with you helps you meet your goals and stay on track. It’s much more inspiring working with people who get what you’re going through.

5. Attend write-ins. Surround yourself with inspiration

This achieves the same thing as creating a group. You’re surrounding yourself with inspiration and creating an environment where you’re driven to work. Some of the write-ins are live or online through the NaNoWriMo site and social media apps. Others you can find by searching for your local area on the website and seeing what events are being hosted.

6. Don’t think. Just write

In my opinion, NaNoWriMo isn’t about writing something amazing. It’s about pushing yourself to write more than you would have otherwise. With the amount of writing you’re doing, unless you have nothing else on your plate, you don’t have time to try and write the next Steven King masterpiece. Just focus on getting words on the page. Consider this draft so rough, it’s basically your outline.

7. Don’t feel you HAVE to reach 50,000 words

If you don’t reach that. It’s okay! Be proud of what you were able to do. And if you want to participate but feel that the word count is too much, set your own goals. You don’t necessarily have to play by all the rules.

8. Whatever you complete, be proud of yourself

This ties back to the last point. If you don’t reach 50,000 words, you’re not a failure. You should still be proud of what you did and that you at least were driven enough to try. Heck, if you want to order that celebration mug, order that celebration mug!

9. Write extra words when you can

If you feel you’re able to write more once you reach your daily goal, keep going! Write as much as you can each day. You’ll thank yourself later. At the beginning of NaNoWriMo, I was writing double my daily word count every day. But then I got overwhelmed with all my obligations, and then I got the flu. That actually made me fall behind. If I hadn’t written as much as I did at the beginning, I don’t know if I would have made it.

10. If you make 50,000, don’t forget to submit for a certificate!

Submit your wordcount on the NaNoWriMo website, and they’ll give you a certificate that you can gaze upon in pride forever. Completing NaNoWriMo is no small thing. You should let yourself lose and celebrate. Get that certificate. Buy that mug. Drop dat book like it’s hot (but actually don’t).

If you do end up choosing to join, friend me on the NaNoWriMo site (sfleonard16, no capitals)! And if you have questions or anxieties, anything at all, let me know! We’ll get through this together. Until next time, Nooksters!


#writers #writer #NaNoWriMo #nooked

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