Sharing 10 NaNoWriMo tips to help you write a book in just 30 days!
Back in 2014, little ambitious Tiffany had all sorts of plans for writing a book, so I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo. For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in November. It’s where people all over the world try their hand at writing a book in just 30 days. I’ve been wanting to write a book since I was in middle school. I even had a Composition notebook that my best friend, Sammi, and I shared where we wrote down ideas for a book we’d write together. I’ve started three books that I never finished, and I even wrote a whole children’s book series that was lost at some point during my move in high school. I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember, and even though I prefer blogging to fiction writing, I had an amazing (albeit stressful) time participating in NaNoWriMo.
Even though I never got my book published, and I refuse to let anyone else read it because it’s actually pretty awful, I’m so, so proud of myself for actually finishing writing a book, and I’m even more proud of myself for finishing it in 30 days. It just goes to show that you can truly do anything you set your mind to. Originally, I was all in and planning on getting my book published. I got some fellow blogger friends to read my book and send back some notes. I even started working on major edits, but then I kind of fell out of love with my novel because it didn’t make sense, and it was super cheesy. I still loved participating in NaNoWriMo though and being able to say that I did write a book in 30 days, even if nothing is going to come of it.
While it’s been five years since I participated in NaNoWriMo, I’ve had moments where I’ve thought about doing it again. I definitely learned a lot about myself and my writing process while participating in 2014, so I wanted to share some of my little nuggets of knowledge with y’all. If you’re thinking about participating in NaNoWriMo next month, keep in mind these 10 NaNoWriMo tips to help you successfully write a book in just 30 days.
1 – PLAN AHEAD
You don’t have to have it all figured out before you get started, but you should have a general idea of at least some of your characters (especially the protagonist and antagonist) and where you want your story to go. It’s best to do this before November hits, so that when NaNoWriMo comes around, you can hit the ground running and put all your ideas onto paper. Make a skeleton outline, have some plot ideas and twists in your head, outline some information about your characters, and just do as much prep as you’re able to do so the start of the month goes as smoothly as possible.
2 – WRITE EVERYDAY
Before November starts, come up with a loose schedule to make sure that you fit writing into your everyday routine for the month. Leave room for the unexpected, but make sure you prioritize your novel, otherwise you won’t get it done. Also, don’t forget to plan for things like social activities and Thanksgiving. You may have less time for writing on those days, so work in some catch-up days into your schedule on days when you know you have nothing else going on.
3 – DON’T WASTE ANY SPARE MINUTE
Waiting at the doctor’s office? Write. Sitting in the back of an Uber? Write. Taking a long time in the bathroom? Write. If you’re sitting still with your cell phone in hand, use it as an opportunity to write or work on your novel. You can save your novel to Google Drive or another online service so you’ll have access to it 24/7, even if you’re not on your computer. That way, you can work on your novel anywhere you are. And it doesn’t have to be adding to your story, per say. It can also mean brainstorming character backgrounds, writing out some quotes you want to use later, or thinking of a interesting plot twist. Use any spare minute to work on your novel.
4 – DON’T EDIT
This was one of the hardest things for me to do because I’m such a perfectionist, but the point of NaNoWriMo isn’t to write a novel that’s ready to go to a publisher. The point is to get your first draft done so you can polish it and make it perfect in future drafts. Just get something on the page, and keep going. Don’t go back and read what you wrote and keep editing it. You can do that in December. In November, focus on reaching your 50,000 word goal.
5 – HAVE DAILY/WEEKLY GOALS
Speaking of goals, make them. The ultimate goal to complete NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words. Divide that word count into weekly or daily goals, and make sure you reach those goals before you stop writing. Even if you get 500 words of “crap” on paper, at least you’ve written something down. Even if you think it may get taken out later, at least you’re making steps to completing your novel and getting to your goal. Set goals for yourself and make sure you hold yourself accountable.
6 – TREAT YO’SELF
Another good reason to set daily and/or weekly goals for yourself is so you can treat yourself when you reach those goals. Writing a novel is hard, but writing a novel in just 30 days seems impossible. But the thing is, it’s not impossible. So many people have done it, including myself. Also, one of my favorite authors, Marissa Meyer, wrote a NaNoWriMo novel that ended up being published and turned into a book series, and it is one of my absolute favorite book series, The Lunar Chronicles. Even if your novel doesn’t end up becoming a best seller, it’s still so incredible that you even took the time to write it. That’s why you should reward yourself for reaching your goals and working toward making it happen. It can be small things like a meal from your favorite restaurant, a new stationary set, or some merch from the NaNoWriMo website. I won a NaNoWriMo mug, and drinking out of it helped motivate me throughout my writing process.
7 – BE PART OF THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
The thing I love about NaNoWriMo is that you aren’t alone throughout the entire process. Through the NaNoWriMo website, you can connect with writers just like you who are trying to write their novels in just 30 days. You can join online groups and have private chats with people who will help hold you accountable and motivate you to reach your goals. You can also join local groups and meet in person to write together. I actually did this when I was doing NaNoWriMo, and I got so much writing done with my fellow future novelists.
You can also connect with other people on social media. Use the #nanowrimo hashtag, participate in the NaNoWriMo word sprints on Twitter, #nanowrimowordsprints, and follow the official NaNoWriMo Twitter. On all of the aforementioned platforms, you can also ask for help if you’re stuck or need a suggestion for a character name, and on the other end of that, you can offer help to those who ask questions you think you can help with.
The thing I love about NaNoWriMo is that it feels like a community, even though there are hundreds of thousands of people participating all over the world. You can easily make connections and even some long-lasting friendships.
8 – CREATE YOUR IDEAL WORK ENVIRONMENT
I made playlists for each of my characters, and when I had a chapter or scene that focused on one character, I played their playlist to get in that mindset. I always made sure my desk was clean because I have ADD, and anything around would have distracted me. As mentioned, won a NaNoWriMo mug, and I always drank out of it when I was writing to help motivate me. I always wore comfy clothes to make sure any uncomfortable clothing wasn’t a distraction to my writing. Plus, I eliminated distractions by turning off my phone and making sure my roommate knew I was writing so he wouldn’t distract me.
Whatever your ideal work environment, create it. Make sure the people you live with know you’re in the zone so they don’t distract you, and get rid of anything else that may cause any kind of distraction. Know the things that will motivate you to write, and keep them close, whether that’s a pup who makes sure you smile instead of stressing too much or a picture of someone who inspired one of the characters in your book. Do whatever you need to do to create a distraction-free and motivating writing environment.
9 – WALK AWAY WITH MORE IDEAS
When you’re done writing for the night, jot down a couple bullet points for where the story is going next so you’ll know exactly what you’re working on when you sit down to write the next time. You always want to leave your writing excited about what’s to come. Don’t walk away from your novel fresh out of ideas because you’ll start your next writing session stressed out about coming up with new ones.
10 – FINISHING NANOWRIMO IS JUST STEP 1
As mentioned, when you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, this is just your first draft. There is so much more you’ll need to do once you finally reach your 50k words and finish your first draft. Finishing NaNoWriMo is just step one, but it’s the most important step, because it’s the first step to getting your novel published, assuming that’s what you plan to do with it.
Also, don’t forget to celebrate when you finish your first draft, because HOLY COW, that’s a huge, ginormous, incredible achievement. Go back to tip 6 and remember to treat yo’self, because you 100% deserve it.
Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo?