7 Tips for Surviving NaNoWriMo


7 Tips for Surviving NaNoWriMo

(And having fun while doing it!)

You've decided that you're finally ready to write The Novel - the one you've been thinking about for years. Hooray! And what better time to start than during the Internet’s biggest writing fest, NaNoWriMo.

What’s NaNoWriMo, you say? Though it sounds like a new social media app, it’s National Novel Writing Month! Each November, thousands of soon-to-be novelists band together with one common goal - write 50,000 words in 30 days. The challenge is intense, but the rewards are worth it - not only will you reach the finish line with a rough draft of your very own novel, but you'll also win all sorts of cool prizes for completing the challenge.

Here are some tips to help you survive the highs and lows of NaNoWriMo:


While you're not supposed to start writing the actual novel until November 1, there's plenty you can do to prepare. You might want to start by carving out a workspace, as well as a few hours of each day, and drawing up a schedule. Start following the schedule at least a few days before NaNo and make sure that your family and friends know that your free time will be occupied during November. Then, start doing the preparation for the actual writing - sketch out a plot, characters, and live in their world for a little bit. If you need to do research, this is the time to do so.

Break it Up

50,000 words in a month is a lot! But 1,667 in a day isn't so bad. You can also think in terms of page count if it makes it easier. The average double-spaced page is about 300 words, so you need to write between 5 and 6 pages a day. Not so bad, right?

Skip to the End

If you don't know what happens in chapter 10, but you know what happens after, then just write a rough outline of chapter ten and skip to the next chapter. You can always fill in the details later.

Turn OFF Your Inner Editor

This is your new mantra: If It's on the page, it's good enough. Don't correct typos, don't rewrite passages, don't even fix commas. In short, don't look back at all. There will be plenty of time for editing later.

But Don't Get Too Attached To Anything Either

You should expect basically everything to change in editing and revision. And that's fine! Writing a novel is just as much about the journey as it is the destination. As children’s author Shannon Hale says, “I'm writing a first draft and reminding myself that I'm simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”

Ask For Help When You Need It

Writing a novel is hard. Writing one in a month can feel impossible. No one expects this to be easy. If you're stuck, call a friend, go to a related event, or spend some time on the forums. You're not alone; don't let yourself feel like you are.

Write Without Writing

Sometimes you need to get up and walk around to get the words flowing again. If you can, go for a stroll and talk into a voice recorder. If you don’t have a voice recorder, just talk out loud, as if you had a secretary to write it all down for you. Don’t be surprised if your walk is cut short so you can hurry back to your writing desk.

Don't Give Up!

This may be the most important part of advice in this article: Don't give up. There will be times when it feels like the NaNoWriMo challenge is impossible. It might help you to look up some of the very successful novels that were written during this challenge, or even to take a deep breath, and remind yourself again and again: You can do this!

Happy writing!


Written by Christian Fink-Jensen, FriesenPress Marketing Manager