Rocking NaNoWriMo: 7 Tips for Reaching 50,000 Words

We’re almost halfway through National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, which encourages writers to participate in a 30-day challenge. The goal? Write 50,000 words in the month of November. Tens of thousands of people have participated since the program’s creation, and many of them have gone on to complete manuscripts, make great writing friends, or eventually sell books. Amazing!

50,000 words in 30 days can sound daunting (especially if you’re planning to spend a whole weekend in a Thanksgiving-dinner-induced food coma). But here are seven ways to make the most out of NaNoWriMo and to help you reach your goal.

1. Create time in your schedule. It can be hard to imagine when you will find the time to write 50,000 words. You know when your best time for writing is—early in the morning, midday, late at night—so find ways to create time for yourself. Stock up on easy-to-make meals for dinner. Save your Netflix binge watching for December. Try to eek out a little bit of time on your lunch hour. Maybe even wake up a tiny bit earlier (gasp!). All those minutes will add up.

2. Make an outline first. Even if you’re a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer, block out the basic vision for your story. The outline doesn’t have to be super detailed or set in stone, but crafting a beginning, middle, and end of your novel will help you fill in the gaps more quickly.

3. Set smaller goals. Unless you don’t work, go to school, have kids, or need to walk the dog, it’s unlikely you’re going to hit 50K overnight. Instead of staring down that huge number, give yourself smaller numbers. Your daily average needs to be about 1,667 words, which means you need to write almost one chapter per day. Now that sounds doable!

4. Have an accountabilibuddy. The entire purpose of NaNoWriMo is to create a community of writers. Take advantage of that! Look for a local group of writers that you can meet with to help cheer you on. If you’re low on free time and can’t make NaNoWriMo meet-ups, sign up for the challenge with a friend. Keep each other posted on your progress, and give each other necessary motivation, such as, “If we make it to 20,000 words, we’ll go get pumpkin spice lattes.”

5. Be social. Yes, social media is the devil that distracts writers from writing. But…it can also help you connect with fellow writers and enjoy the experience together. For great tips and advice, check out the #NaNoCoach or #NaNoWriMo hashtags, and be sure to follow the NaNoWriMo Facebook and Twitter pages. I’d also recommend keeping up with YA author Susan Dennard on Twitter and look into The Mighty Pens, which is helping raise money for the Malala Fund during NaNoWriMo.

6. Edit later. Strange advice coming from an editor, but in the world of NaNoWriMo, editing only slows you down. Think of these 50,000 words as a rough first draft, and allow yourself to make mistakes. The most important thing is getting the words down. (Just remember that come December 1, it is editing time!)

7. Write something you’re passionate about. Any writer will tell you that it’s tough to put words to paper when you’re not in love with a project. It’s even harder to crank out page after page, night after night, when you’re not feeling enthusiastic about your story. So use this month to write something you love, because that’s what NaNoWriMo is all about!

Are you already participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Best of luck! And if you haven’t signed up yet, there’s no time like the present: nanowrimo.org/sign_up

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