Surviving NaNoWriMo: A Motivational Semi-Guide.

NaNoWriMo — also known as Nation Novel Writing Month, the month were writers everywhere attempt to write… well, a novel.

The actual goal is to write 50,000 words by the end of the month, because 50,000 words is usually seen as the minimum word count acceptable for something to be considered a novel, even though the standard for published novels is longer. So, “write a novel in a month” can be a little misleading. But I guess “write most of a novel in a month” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Nanowrimo starts November 1st and lasts until the final day of the month, with numerous events hosted by throughout that time, including meetups around the world, encouraging notes from famous writers, and fun statistics to help you track your word count.


1. Start strong.

If you assume ahead of time that you won’t be able to write for the last three days of the month and make up those words in the first week or two, then when you’re knocked out by a bad cold or an emergency or a plot point that falls apart, you won’t have to stress about finishing on time.

2. Better yet, start last year.

The stronger your writing habits are going into nanowrimo, the better you’ll fair. Don’t just write consistently during nano ⁠— work on your writing all year long, and build up to that 50k a month instead of trying to cold start into it.

3. Find buddies.

Whether they be fellow nano’ers or not, finding people to hold you accountable and cheer you on is one of the best ways to kindly force yourself to keep writing!

4. Do writing sprints.

Sit down with a timer, and write ⁠— without stopping! ⁠— for a certain amount of time. Ten minutes makes for a great warm up, and twenty-five is a good place to land, but try to find whatever number of minutes gets you in the groove without wearing you out by the end. Take five-to-ten minute breaks in between. Do it with friends and encourage each other to keep writing!

5. Set a time.

Clear out part of your day to sit down and write. Put it on your calendar, on a sticky note in the middle of your keyboard, on the back of your eyelids, whatever gets your attention best, and don’t plan to do anything but write during that time.

6. Take productive breaks.

It’s so easy to immediately turn to social media or video games or netflix the moment you break from writing, but try to stay away from those until your total word count is finished. Instead, use breaks to go for a walk, get a snack, drink water, do chores, check on your outline ⁠— do things you’ll want to come back to writing after!

7. Don’t worry about editing!

It’s easy to get caught up in rereading (and even rewriting) what you’ve already put down, but there will be plenty of time for that once nanowrimo is over. Don’t let yourself focus on how the words you’ve already finished have turned out, only on what you’re writing right now!


50,000 words in a month can be a lofty goal for a many writers, especially those who are bogged down with other responsibilities or whose health keeps them from writing quickly or for long periods of time. But don’t lose heart: many of your favorite published authors don’t write 50,000 words in a single month either.

The point of the nano spirit isn’t to pound out as many words as possible, but to get into the habit of writing consistently throughout the week. If you’re forming that habit and having fun while you do it, then you’ve already won!

So if you’re participating in nanowrimo this year, be proud of yourself for every word you write, and focus, not on slamming down an exact number of words so you can collapse into a coma, but on building momentum that will carry you into December, and then January, and onward to a decade’s worth of new books!

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