Writing Raven

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NaNoWriMo is tough. Here’s how to make it easier

National Novel Writing Month begins November 1st with the goal of writing the entire draft of a novel in thirty days. It’s a staple for many authors and some have enjoyed great success from the annual event.


Writing a draft in a month is tough. It takes dedication and prep work—and sometimes a dose of reality. How many words can you realistically write in a day or a week? How much mental space, as well as time, do you need to reach those goals? Can you maintain the grind of doing so day after day?


It can be fun to dive in and binge write when an idea is fresh and your muse cooperates. It can become overwhelming, however, if you get those first few thousand words down but don’t know where your plot is going or how you’re going to get your characters to the climax and grand finale.


The farther you fall behind, the more likely you are to give up. Your mental health can take a beating. Your physical and emotional self can, too, from sitting long hours in a chair, typing so many words causing tendonitis, etc. While you may feel connected to fellow writers also doing NaNoWriMo, the opposite can happen with friends and family. You become so focused on hitting your daily word count that real life takes a backseat.


In order to be successful, prep work is key. Here are ten tips to help you take on this writing intensive month and make it successful!


  1. Decide if this project is worth it. It’s okay to take a pass! If you decide to jump in, set your daily goals. For example, if you’re shooting for a 50,000-word novel, your daily word goal is 1,667 for thirty days. If you plan to take any days off, say for Thanksgiving or Black Friday, adjust that minimum daily goal.
  2. To maximize your productivity, establish a routine to write in the same place at the same time every day and use a progress tracker.
  3. Outline, outline, outline. Not only the overall story but outline the chapters, even if it’s only a sentence or two. That way you won’t face a blank page when you sit down to write each day. If you can quit on a cliffhanger, that’s also a great help to get you started at the following session. Grab our worksheet to help you establish the beats of your story and make outlining it easier. http://writing-raven.com/product/breaking-down-the-beats-writing-exercise
  4. Know all your characters. Don’t waste time deciding on the last name of a secondary character or what your hero’s job is. Create a cheat sheet for each one that you can quickly refer to when needed. Use our character interview worksheet to get you started. https://writing-raven.com/product/character-interview-worksheet
  5. Enlist accountability buddies and let your family and friends know that you’re going to be busy. Share why this is important to you and ask them the cheer you on.
  6. Reward yourself. Decide on treats that will motivate you to hit your daily word count and then celebrate each time you do. This could be your favorite candy, a glass of wine, a dollar in a goal jar toward a vacation, or blasting your favorite playlist for an hour to clear your head.
  7. Don’t edit. Start fresh at each writing session and don’t spend time fixing previous scenes. This is where your outline can really help to keep you on track.
  8. Prepare plenty of meals ahead of time and have easy-to-access snacks. A menu planner is a helpful tool to fill out before you start.
  9. Work your muse. If you’re having a stellar writing session, keep going until you run out of energy or ideas. Even professional authors have days when the words don’t flow, but on the days when it does, take advantage of it. If you understand and accept that writing is a process and that you’re not a machine, you can avoid burnout.
  10. Check out https://nanowrimo.org/nano-prep-101 for more ideas and resources for surviving (and enjoying!) NaNoWriMo.


Good luck,

The Writing Ravens

P.S. If you need help during or after November’s adventure, we offer custom covers, blurb writing and plotting services, coaching, and more. Visit our website https://writing-raven.com or contact us with any questions at WriteTheRavens@gmail.com. You don’t have to do this alone!