Want to Win NaNoWriMo? We’ve Got Tips From Writers Who Survived

Want to Win NaNoWriMo? We’ve Got Tips From Writers Who Survived

Who’s doing NaNoWriMo this year?

I’m not taking part in the annual “write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days” competition, but I’m always excited to see other writers share their NaNoWriMo progress and write their way towards the 50,000th word.

Stop Procrastinating recently surveyed 2,000 NaNoWriMo veterans, asking for tips to help writers who might be new to the idea of writing a novel in a month. Some of the responses, like “plan ahead,” are going to sound familiar.

Other tips are a bit more… well, let’s just say that nearly 250 of the writers surveyed admitted to writing their novel while sitting on the toilet.

Plan ahead, work ahead

If your NaNoWriMo novel doesn’t have an outline, you might want to make one. Many of the writers surveyed began planning their novel before the November 1 start date.

The official NaNoWriMo rules allow planning, outlining, character sketches, and other prep work as long as you do not write a single word of the actual novel before November 1.

On the other hand, 52 percent of the writers elected not to plan before they began writing — and they still finished NaNoWriMo with all 50,000 words intact.

Working ahead of schedule — whether that meant getting up at 5 a.m. to write, or whether it meant writing more than the recommended 1,667 words per day — also helped the surveyed writers reach their goals.

Take sick days, write anywhere, and avoid distractions

Now we come to the tips you probably aren’t expecting.

First on the list? Find a way to take some time off work. For a lot of us, that’ll mean taking a vacation or personal day. For six percent of the writers surveyed, it meant calling in sick to get a day off to write.

If you’d rather not fake an illness just to win NaNoWriMo, the other strategy is to become skilled at writing from anywhere. Write on a bus. Write in a cab. Write on a plane. Write on your lunch break at work. A full 12 percent of the writers surveyed said they wrote on the toilet, either at work or home.

When you gotta go write, you gotta go.

Lastly, you need to be ready to avoid distractions. What’s the most common distraction? You’re looking at it right now: 42 percent of the surveyed writers consider the Internet a distraction that gets in the way of their writing.

So finish reading this article, check out the full infographic below, leave a comment with your best NaNoWriMo tip, and step away from the Internet. Then get writing!

Nanowrimo tips


Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? If you’re a NaNoWriMo veteran, what tips do you have for new writers?

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9 comments

  • I’ve done it three times. The first time I went in with absolutely no preparation and really wasn’t even sure what type of novel I wanted it to be. That one was an abysmal failure.

    Great advice!

    I succeeded on my second and third attempts. Two important factors led to success. The first was to go in with a better plan: bring in an outline so that you don’t waste time trying to figure out what to write. The second was to write a “quicker” type of story. For me, that meant first person YA. The words just flew out.

    I’m not going to official participate this year, but instead I’m going to try to write 50,000 words of short stories instead, just to see if I can.

    Regardless, good luck to all the NaNO participants this year!

  • Stuart says:

    I’m in for the first time.

    My tip. Forget quality and commit. Then write like a lunatic. It’s fun!

    • Angela says:

      This is my first time and I completely agree with your strategy. I don’t stop and edit. I don’t critique. I just pound away until I’ve passed the daily target. It is fun!

  • Joseph McGarry says:

    I did this last year. My tip: start writing. Remember, this is just the first draft. You’ll be revising it later. Focus on the overall plotline. I knew where I wanted to start, and where I wanted to end. I listened to my characters to tell me how to get there. If you’re having problems figuring out the overall structure of your book, write the blurb that will appear on the back of your book. This is the statement that gives potential readers and buyers a general idea of what to expect. This will help you keep on track.

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