Surviving NaNo

Surviving NaNo
November 8, 2016 No Comments » For Authors, Writing Advice J.K. Allen

nonoIt’s NaNoWriMo time which can be both thrilling and harrowing. The goal is to write 50,000 in 30 days and there’s not much room for missing writing times and still winning. So let’s look at some different things to do to survive NaNo and win.

  • Have a writing schedule. This is especially important if you are busy working or taking care of children or both. You need to set aside writing time and protect it with your life. Let friends and family know when you won’t be available and turn off the phone. Try writing early in the morning before you household wakes up, or try writing at night when they are asleep.
  • Take breaks. Aim for writing for an hour then giving yourself a twenty minute break where you can Facebook or look at Pinterest. Then start all over again until you meet your daily word count.
  • Set writing goals. To get to 50k words in thirty days you’ll need to write 1667 words a day. Know what your daily word goal is and try to beat it to give yourself a cushion for days you won’t make word count.
  • Reward yourself. Did you make your word count goals today? Celebrate with your favorite dessert, an episode of your favorite TV show, or an hour on Pinterest.
  • Break writing up into scenes and have a goal for each scene. Break your novel up into reasonable chunks when you’re writing. And then give each scene a goal to write with purpose. For instance you might have a scene where the protagonist meets the antagonist. Your scene goal will be to introduce the antagonist, highlight the major flaw in the protagonist, and to foreshadow the climax.
  • Have a plan for when you want to quit. It’s almost inevitable that at some point you’ll feel overwhelmed and winning NaNo will seem impossible, but having a plan for that point can help you get through it. I recommend finding someone to do word sprints with or to go to a NaNo write-in. Just keep getting those words down.

  • Do not edit as you go. I can’t say this enough. Editing will kill your creativity and you’ll lose words instead of gaining them. Allow yourself to write badly. There’s a reason it’s called a rough draft. Save edits for December.
  • Do not miss two days in a row. That will get you far enough behind that quitting will seem more and more tempting.
  • Feel free to skip around and write what inspires you that day. I write best when I jump from scene to scene and have a scene list which allows me to do so without missing anything. I use index cards for my scene lists and write a sentence for the action in the scene (Tom meets Daisy), a sentence for the conflict caused by that action (Jenny gets jealous and bullies Daisy), and the scene goal (introduce main character).

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It is possible to win NaNoWriMo. You just have to keep writing and believe in yourself even if you get behind. These tips should help you survive the process. What tips do you have for NaNo? Share below and happy NaNo writing!


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J.K. Allen Julia Allen received her BA in Creative Writing and English from Michigan State University. She did her senior thesis in poetry under the tutelage of Diane Wakoski, but has been focused primarily on fiction as of late. Common writing themes that can be found in her work address identity and the type of strength that can be found in ordinary people. Julia is currently working on a Young Adult fantasy novel and can be found at local cafes in her hometown when writing, and painting, drawing, or reading when not.

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