I am 100% not an expert on NaNoWriMo (Nano) and this is only my third time attempting it. I have “won” both times, but barely. Even though I am sure there are plenty of blog posts on the topic, but I still wanted to write up some tips to share. To be honest, I have no idea how I am going to “win” Nano this year. Between working, school, blogging, family visiting, life, and oh yeah READING, I have no idea if I will meet 50k. So these tips are as much for me as they are for you.
As a little disclaimer: I do not read books on writing and I get most of my writing tips from people I follow on Twitter and the few YouTube videos I have watched on the subject. So these are mostly tips that have helped me, which does not mean they will help you or are the only way to win Nano.
What Is NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and basically the goal is to write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. It’s a time of suffering, fun, and asking yourself why the heck you decided to attempt it.
Here is their website which they recently updated. Even if you have done Nano before, I recommend checking it out before November starts.
Prep before NaNoWriMo:
Everyone preps differently some people write full on outlines and then there is me who sucks at outlining because I just want to start writing.
- Figure out what story you want to write/pick an idea.
- Some people decide day of though. So you do you.
- Sign up on the Nano Website & add your story. I never title mine and include anything, but make sure you at least add it!
- Follow NaNoWriMo on Twitter asap! They are already doing some #NanoPrep
- Outline if that is your thing! I suck at outlining, but I still want to get at least some sort of structure down. If you need help outlining, Katytastic on YouTube has some great tips for brainstorming and outlining with theses videos.
- I am terrible at outlining, but I keep a notebook where I keep ideas/character information and a Word Doc with anything I think up
- Make all your Spotify playlists and Pinterest Boards in advance. You can edit/add to them in November, but making them in advance will prevent you from getting stuck on them for hours during the month (maybe).
- I find Pinterest boards great to have open while I write, especially for outfit inspiration. I either make one for the project or a few for the main characters, it depends.
- I just have one Spotify playlist with songs that are good for writing, but I’ve been wanting to make one for the project I will attempt this month.
Tips During November (general):
- Write everyday, even if you are not meeting the word count.
- Do not stress if you get behind
- Try to schedule a few days to catch up though before you get too far behind and get overwhelmed.
- Word Sprints are great. There is a whole Twitter account which does sprints all day
- Have some friends you can complain with/cheer on!
- Do work sprints together if you can. Either in person or FaceTime or just do them at the same time
- Meet up for coffee and have writing dates – make sure you actually write. My friend and I chat for a bit and then do sprints.
- Text them for help! (like naming characters or what someone should say etc.)
- Make time in your schedule to write.
- Either write at the same time every day
- Have a specific amount of time you plan to write for
- Write it on your To Do List for the day
- Do your words before you watch TV, but do remember to take break!
- Write on your lunch break at work or write on your phone while you are waiting for class etc. I wrote 250 words on my phone on an airplane last year.
- Don’t let yourself get stuck! This is clearly easier said than done, but here are a few tips to get yourself “unstuck”
- Revise your outline
- Edit different parts like character descriptions or places where you did not go into detail
- Write out of order or a scene you have been looking forward to
- Do NOT expect your draft to be perfect, let’s be real, it won’t be. But, just getting those word on the page is awesome!
- Change locations! I do this with homework. I make a to-do list to do at a coffee shop. Once I complete it, I come home eat and start doing homework again. But, can also apply for writing.
- Here is a YouTube video and a blog post if you would like a few more tips from another perspective.
Writing Tips (again I’m not an expert):
- Think about what you are going to write before you do, I am terrible at outlining and either deviate from the outline or don’t have one, but before I sit and write, I usually have a rough idea of what I’m going to write. Before I go to sleep and when I’m setting up/cleaning up at work are good times for me to think. But, write down your ideas before you forget
- I read what I wrote the day before and edit/revise before I start for the day. I usually will add at least 100 words and then I know what the heck is happening. This does take some time and you don’t get words down as quickly, so do at your own risk.
- Don’t correct spelling as you go. Just try to get all the words out and then go back and edit. Warning: you might spell a word so badly that you will not be able to figure out what you meant (or this is just me).
- If you get stuck or don’t want to write a whole scene, leave notes in your draft to come back later like [INSERT BATTLE HERE] or [INSERT BACKSTORY]
Remember that NaNo is a challenge, but it is also supposed to be fun! Don’t get too stressed or wrapped up in the stress. If you meet your goal, great, but, if not, do not beat yourself up. Any words on the page are good!
Best of luck to anyone attempting NaNo (including myself because I’m scared)