Winning NaNoWriMo

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10 Tips for Winning NaNoWriMo

Winning NaNoWriMo starts today!

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is an annual event in which writers attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in the month of November. The event was started in 1999 by Chris Baty and a group of friends in the San Francisco Bay area and has since grown to include hundreds of thousands of writers from all over the world.

Winning NaNoWriMoNaNoWriMo is now managed by the non-profit organization Office of Letters and Light, which also runs other programs such as Young Writers Program and Camp NaNoWriMo. The main NaNoWriMo site ( is the main hub of activity, with a forum, a blog, and resources for writers, including character generators and plotting tools, as well as a community of over 60,000 writers.

The challenge begins on the first of November and runs for the entire month, with a goal of writing 50,000 words by midnight on November 30th. Participants are encouraged to form groups and work together toward their goals.

Since 2005, Camp NaNoWriMo is held annually in July. It is a summer camp-like retreat for novelists of all ages and skill levels. Campers form groups with other participants and write together at various locations around the United States.

10 Tips for Winning NaNoWriMo

The NaNoWriMo challenge is not for the faint of heart, but many writers find the experience to be both exhilarating and rewarding.  Here are ten tips for winning NaNoWriMo:

1. Set realistic goals.

Don’t try to write 10,000 words in a day, if you’ve never done it before.  Slow and steady wins the race.  Your daily word count goal is 1,667.  Try to get as close to that every day so you won’t have to work harder as the month goes on. If you need to, set smaller goals within the month-long challenge. For example, you could aim to write 2,000 words per week or 500 words per day. Once you reach these goals, give yourself a pat on the back—you deserve it!

2. Make a plan.

Plan when you will write, how long you will write, and what you’ll do during breaks. If you have some time in October, or what veteran NaNoWriMo winners call “Preptober,” you should plot out your novel or at least jot down scene ideas and character sketches to give yourself something to refer to while you’re trying to get in your daily word count.

3. Write regularly.

Writing for an hour at the same time every day is more likely to help you reach your goal than writing sporadically throughout the month. This will also build your stamina for focus and consistency, which is required to reach your goal.

4. Review your progress.

Keep track of how many words you’ve written each day in a journal or spreadsheet so you can see if you’re on track to reach your goal. Pacemaker Planner ( is a free online tracker that comes in handy because you can set your writing goal of 50,000 words total from November 1st – 30th and at the end of the day type in the amount of words that you wrote.  It will calculate how far behind, ahead or on track you are to reach your goal.

5. Take breaks.

One of the most important things you can do to succeed at NaNoWriMo is to take breaks. It might seem counterintuitive, but breaks can actually help you to stay focused and motivated. Consider using the Pomodoro which involves setting a timer for 25 minutes and writing until the timer goes off. Then you take a five-minute break before setting the timer again and starting to write again.

6. Reward yourself.

One of the best ways to stay motivated during NaNoWriMo is to reward yourself. This can be as simple as allowing yourself to watch your favorite TV show or going out for ice cream after you hit your daily word count goal. Make sure you’re rewarding yourself for word count milestones as well.  Pick something for 10,000, 25,000, and 50,000 words that are extra special so you’re eager to hit those landmarks so you can get your prize. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you’ll look forward to, and that will help keep you going. Winning these rewards along the way will get you leaps and bounds closer to winning NaNoWriMo.

7. Limit distractions.

When you’re writing, that should be your only task. Don’t check emails or social media. Don’t answer the phone.  Train your family that for this month at least, your writing time is sacred and to respect the closed door or the times you’ve set up to write.  The only exception would be if you were dictating your book and decided to do chores or go for a walk while you’re getting your words in that way.

8. Create a music playlist.

As long as you can write with music in the background, it’s helpful to have something that will get you in the mood and keep you in the writing zone. Music helps set the mood, drown out distractions, and keep you focused. But sometimes, it’s hard to find the perfect writing playlist.

Some people can’t listen to their favorite songs because they always want to sing along and it distracts them.  If that’s you, try movie scores or classical music. Find a few songs that fit the mood of your story. If it’s a light-hearted rom-com, you’ll want something upbeat and fun. For a dark thriller, look for tracks with an eerie feeling. Once you have a few songs that set the tone, it’s time to fill in the rest of the playlist with similar tracks.

9. Get an accountability partner.

An accountability partner is a great way to stay on track during NaNoWriMo. Having someone to check in with can help you stay focused and motivated. Try to find someone who is also participating in NaNoWriMo. This will ensure that they understand what you’re going through and can offer support and encouragement.

Set regular check-in times, whether it’s once a day or once a week. This will help you both stay on track and hold each other accountable. And most importantly, be honest with each other about your progress, struggles, and successes. This openness will help create a strong bond between you and your accountability partner.

10. Don’t beat yourself up!

One of the most important things to remember during NaNoWriMo is to never guilt-shame yourself. This isn’t the time for negative self-talk or beating yourself up over missed goals. This is a month to be proud of what you’re accomplishing, even if it’s not perfect. So if you find yourself slipping behind on your word count goal, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just pick yourself up and keep going. You can do this

Related Links

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