How to Win NaNoWriMo: All the Tips and Tricks You Need to Know (2024)

NaNoWriMo Tips and Tricks

Looking for some NaNoWriMo tips and tricks? You’ve come to the right place! From having the right mindset to utilizing a few of the most useful tools out there, let’s dive in to break down a winning strategy to tackle this year’s NaNoWriMo!

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National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is a time when novelists and aspiring writers everywhere set aside their fears and reservations to write like maniacs for an entire month. It’s not easy. There are tens of thousands of writers participating this year and everyone’s competing for the same word count.

50,000 words.

If the word count feels daunting to you, don’t give up just yet! Before we dive into some tips and tricks on how you can win NaNoWriMo even if you don’t think that it’ll be possible for you this year, heed this quote:

No one knows how to write a novel until it’s been written.

– Alice Hoffman

How true!

Therefore, there are no hard-and-fast rules listed here; rather, they are only recommendations to aid you as you embark on your NaNoWriMo journey.

1. The Right NaNoWriMo Mindset

The first thing you need to be aware of is:

You’re not writing a ready-to-be-published novel in a month.

No! You’re writing a first draft. The revisions may come later, but for now, just write.

That’s it—that’s all you do.

Just write

Don’t even think; just write. You can edit you work later, but use the whole month of November solely for creating. For writing. You might laugh at this notion, but consider the nugget of truth in it:

How can I know what I think unless I see what I write?

– Erica Jong

In the same vein:

I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.

– Joan Didion

Perhaps, this quote sums it up best:

Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.

– Isaac Asimov

How true is that? Writing unravels the convoluted thoughts within, and therefore, just write.

Just do it.

Hold back on your revisions

Hit that delete button only if absolutely necessary. Anytime you’re tempted to revise, heed this word of wisdom:

If you start to revise before you’ve reached the end, you’re likely to begin dawdling with the revisions and putting off the difficult task of writing.

– Pearl S. Buck

2. The Perfect Idea

Next, it’s important to think about what story you’re going to be writing. Your idea is the foundation for everything that comes after it.

No matter matter how many words you write in November, to have something worth reading you have to have a story to tell.

The best way to figure out what story you want to tell is to start brainstorming. Then, write down as many ideas as you can. You never know which one is going to be the one that sticks.

To help you answer the question of “what to write”, consider this:

Write something only you can write: the truth, your truth.

– Torey Maldonado

You have a unique experience that no one else has. Perhaps it’s that childhood memory that stays with you. Perhaps it’s something you learn during one summer break. Or, perhaps it’s that surreal feeling you had when you got accepted into your dream school. Only you know.

Secondly, think about this:

If there’s a book that you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.

– Toni Morrison

Write what you want to read. Do you wish there’s a story about a pirate who’s been affected by vampirism? Maybe, it’s due time that you write it!

Another great quote on the subject:

Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow.

– Margaret Atwood

Write for yourself. All in all, you owe it to yourself to write that story you’ve been having inside of you.

Stumped for ideas? Check out our post 11 NaNoWriMo Plot Ideas We Love, which have enough potential twists and turns to fuel your writing around and expanding this idea for the entire month, with various themes from adventure, romance, to platonic. So, there’s bound to be something for everyone!

Alternatively, browse our Story Ideas & Writing Prompts category that contains anything from Surreal Writing Prompts, Witch Story Ideas to Unique Zombie Ideas!

3. Break down the goal into small chunks

Writing 50.000 words in 30 days equal to:

1,700 words per day, or 3.4 pages, 42.5 minutes on a keyboard, or 1.4 hours if writing with hand.

If the quantity seems daunting, do this:

Use smaller font

Use this to trick your brain that you only have to fill up 1.5 pages instead of 3.4 pages in order to reach the 1,700 words of your daily NaNoWriMo goal.

Record inspiration anywhere

On the edges of that grocery receipt, or on a napkin. Queueing in line for coffee and having an epiphany? Jot it down on your phone.

A snippet of conversation pops in your brain just as you’re about to sleep? The record feature on your phone can be especially useful for this.

Then, the next time you’re sitting to write, all you have to do is transfer those ideas that you’ve captured everywhere else onto your screen.

Play a game

No, seriously! Play a quick game, play with your dog, prune your plants, etc!

My phone has a match-three mobile game where the life regenerates every half hour. Therefore, what I do is I will write in short bursts of half-hour periods, knowing that at the end of every period I’ll earn a tiny reward in the form of a game, which only takes a minute to complete. And then, I return to my work.

Take a great care to exercise restrain and discipline with this one, though. Don’t get carried away with your reward, whatever it is!

4. Find a writing buddy

It’s always easier to achieve a goal when you have a friend or a community to support you and cheer you on. Knowing that tens of thousands of other individuals are taking part in NaNoWriMo throughout the world is precisely what makes NaNoWriMo so fun to do.

You’ll never feel alone when participating in NaNoWriMo.

Sign up for NaNoWriMo writing forum or find a place online where other writers are posting their daily word counts to encourage you. Discord, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are some other great platforms aside from the NaNoWriMo forum itself to start looking for a writing community, and potentially a partner to check in with daily to help you stay motivated and focused on your NaNoWriMo journey.

5. Set a habit

Don’t wait for inspiration. Inspiration is a myth.

Don’t set a schedule; set a habit!

You know that phrase, “When you build it, it will come”? When you set a writing habit, inspiration, mojo—whatever it is—will come to you. Consider this quote about habit:

First, forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.

– Octavia Butler

How do you build a habit? Find your rhythm and stick with it.

Some people write best in the morning with a cup of coffee while the kids are in school, others find it inspirational to type away on their laptop when the house is quiet at night. Still others write best at specific times during the day. No matter what your optimal writing time is, you want to make sure you’re writing when you’re at your best.

But also.

Life happens, and it’s perfectly OK to reschedule your writing time if something comes up. You don’t have to beat yourself up if you’re not able to write when you thought you would. All that matters is that you get back to it as soon as you can and make up for the missing schedule one way or another.

6. Utilize some writing tools

There are tons of tools and apps out that that can help you track your word count, set writing goals, and even help you write your outline. There are many more tools and apps out there that it’s almost impossible to list them all, but don’t worry too much about them because:

None of them works unless you do.

Pick one or two to help you make the most of your time while you’re writing. Don’t use more than three or four because they might get overwhelming. Plus, it’s a pain having to keep track of all the writing apps you use.

If you much prefer PDFs, my NaNoWriMo PDF Compilation for 2022 NaNoWriMo might be a good place to start. There, you’ll find a variety of helpful PDFs that you can print and fill out to help you create your characters, track your progress, and even outline your entire novel.

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of having to print anything, consider these:

(Please click on the image for more information.)

Chris Baty, the FOUNDER of the enormously popular NaNoWriMo, has totally updated and enlarged his authoritative guide to extreme noveling. This compendium is jam-packed with fresh advice from authors, week-by-week quick reference guides, and more from Chris, who has more than 15 years of experience writing for results.

(Please click on the image for more information.)

This book offers a guide on Character Arcs, Three Act Structure, Novel Story Beats, Sequence Outlines, Scene Outlines, Adapting Outlines, World Building, Incorporating Themes, and Weaving Subplots. Outline Your Novel provides a guided approach to outlining. Author Scott King lays it all out in this book so you can learn from his successes and mistakes.

7. Voice-to-text

Voice-to-text deserves its own category because of how life changing and time saving it is. Here‘s a tutorial on how to dictate your document in Word, which you could then copy and paste to your document processing tool of choice.

Don’t use Word? No problem. Most smart phones nowadays are equipped with voice-typing ability. For example, you can open up your email and when you hover your typing keyboard on your smart phones you’ll see a microphone icon. Tap on it, and it will enable you to dictate your text. And then, you can transfer the document from your email onto your document processing tool of choice.

Here‘s a tutorial on how to dictate text on iPhone. And here‘s a tutorial on the same thing using Android.

8. Have fun!

With NaNoWriMo, the journey is as fun and as important as the destination. The people you’ll meet along the way will make your experience that much richer and more meaningful than just having a finished book in your hands. Therefore, don’t forget to have fun and make some new friends along the way!

We’ll say it one more time:

Have fun.

That’s all I have for now, wishing you all the best experience in 2022 NaNoWriMo. I’m also posting a bunch of plot ideas that you can use for your own story. Check the side bar for more information!

Have any question or feedback? Feel free to contact me here. Need some prompts to jumpstart the flow of your creative juices? Feel free to browse this site to find posts such as these ones:

Until next time!

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