How to Win NaNoWriMo

Happy National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo!

In which crazy, determined, and optimistic writers aim to write 50,000 words, or 200 pages in the 30 days of November.

I’ve only won once, but friends and friends of friends who are trying keep asking me for advice, so here you go:

How To Win NaNoWriMo:

  • Get your 1,667 words in every day
  • If you miss a day, it’s okay to take more than 1 day to catch up
  • Try to get ahead, so if life happens, you’re not screwed
  • Sit down at your desk with a glass of water and force yourself not to browse the internet until you’ve finished your glass
  • Bribe yourself – I’m binge watching Gilmore Girls for the first time, so no TV til I’ve gotten all my words in
  • If the scene sucks? Leave the words on the page and rewrite it!
  • Can’t think of a name? Your analogy doesn’t fit in  your world? Put a tag in and move on. You can always search on the ‘[‘ and find-replace all the words.
    • [Girl’sName]
    • [Elephant]
    • [12th century Japanese underthings]
  • DON’T self-edit.

Don’t Self-Edit:

Sometimes you’re writing and your realize you’re droning on and on about the bookshelf and the sky and the weather.

You know your story won’t need that, so you start to delete it.

Stop! Write it anyway.

All that “unneeded” backstory is for YOU. Write it so you can figure it out. You can always edit it later, AFTER you’ve finished the book.

And maybe all that description will end up being used, sprinkled throughout the book sparingly.

If You’re Stuck

  • Characters always have to eat (now I know why GRR Martin has so many feasts!)
  • Write some vignettes
    • Write short story backgrounds of secondary characters
    • Write world building mythologies
  • Ask yourself, what would the worse thing to happen here be?
  • Figure out what your character wants and what’s in his/her way
    • What are the steps needed for your character to succeed?
    • How does your character fix the issues in the way?
    • After fixing the issues, does your character still want the same things?
  • Some people swear by sex scenes, but I’m a fade-to-black kinda writer
  • Some people swear by fight scenes, I’m not great, but I’m learning
  • Add a love interest!
  • Kill a love interest!
  • Add a nemesis – who might not even be the villain. Just that annoying kid who always teased you about doing the assigned reading–then asked for a summary just before class.
  • Add iguanas. The iguana lobby is severely under-served.

Every word you write,

every word you edit

is one word closer to a finished novel.


P.S. Support my sprint on the 12th, or sign up to help yourself. I’m raising money for Syria Relief.


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