3 Things That Helped Me Win NaNoWriMo (Early!)

Since Thursday is Thanksgiving in the US, my weekly blogpost is going up today.

On Sunday, November 20, 2016, around 11pm, I ‘won’ NaNoWriMo.

I finished writing 50,00o words (+176) to my gDoc document. With 10 days left in November, my ~200 pledged pages are done. 

How Did I Write 50,000 words in 20 Days?

1) Set A Realistic Goal

I have never written more than about 3,000 words in a day. Never.

The ONLY time I have ever done more than 20,000 words (~80 pages) in a month was the time I won NaNoWriMo2013.

So, pledging to write this year, I looked at my word count history and tried to calculate what was feasible for me. (If you’ve never tried writing on a schedule before, you might set a lower number.)

The goal for NaNo amounts to 1,667 words per day. Doubling that just isn’t something that my writing history showed me doing. But, rounding off just under another 1,000? Just maybe. I had done that for a few days in ’13, trying to play catch up.

2) Watch the metrics

When I’m writing, I measure my word count every day. I like to see my stats and find it encouraging. I’ve mentioned before that I’m competitive and don’t want to let myself down.

And you read that part above where I said I’ve never written more than 3,000 words in a day? That meant I had to write EVERY day. I might fall 500 words short or so, but if I let myself slip, I knew that there was no way I would finish.

3) Know If You’re In The Right Place

Did you see the part where I didn’t win NaNo in 2014 or 2015?

I started this book in 2014, but then started getting feedback for my first book after about a week or so and got distracted. I wrote about 20,000 words, but since my current book is a sequel and I had to rewrite the ending to the first book, I found it better to start out fresh.

Last November, I didn’t even try to write. I was 1 month into my first new job in a decade, I attended PhilCon, I hosted a large family Thanksgiving, and 2 days later moved out, signaling the end of a long term relationship. Emotionally, I wasn’t able to create.

You know what I did?

I edited my first book, again. My draft had stalled out and I took the impetus of NaNoWriMo to rededicate my spare time and get through my next round of edits. It was mostly line edits and clean up, but it needed doing before I could get into the drafting and see what really needed revising.

This year?

I was hoping for 20,000 words, planning for 50,000, and dreaming about 75,000.

I purposely kept my calendar light and I’m pretty sure my gym shoes are dusty.

When I managed to hit my stretch goal of 2,500 words the first three days, I took heart and realized I was in a good writing place right now. I’ve been barreling past research issues, putting brackets for me to come back to plot holes and just pushed forward.

My Next Step

Here’s to hoping I’m not celebrating too early and can keep up my motivation now that I’m past the official goal post.

It helps that I’ve still got 2 badges left to win: Update my word count 30 days in a row and pledge to revise.

That’s my plan.

Morgan, dressed in a grey hoodie and black leather jacket stands on a walking trail with trees and a ground covered in leaves behind her.
A near-victory lap around the lake.


  1. Good advice! I usually aim for 2500 words daily weekdays, with weekends off. That usually gives me a nice buffer when things come up, like Thanksgiving.


    Liked by 1 person

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