Calling all writers! Have you ever wanted to write a novel, but you haven’t felt like you have the motivation, community, or the right time to do it? Legend has it that nearly every avid reader has a secret inner author…and National Novel Writing Month—a.k.a. “NaNoWriMo”—is the perfect solution to getting your story out into the world! This global phenomenon connects writers around the world with one goal in mind: completing a 50,000 word novel by the end of November.
What Exactly Is NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose sole purpose has been to encourage writers to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days since 1999. The NaNoWriMo movement connects hundreds of thousands of writers from around the world who are determined to have their first draft finished by the end of the month. Sound impossible? Trust us, with the right mindset, dedication, and goals, you can do it!
How Does It Work?
When you sign up on the NaNoWriMo website, your solitary writing practice turns into an interconnected event with other determined writers, while helping you stay on track towards your goals. The website utilizes progress tracking tools which track the number of words you write like Fitbit tracks the number of steps you walk. You can use it to set milestones, connect with other writers in the community, and participate in real-world volunteer-hosted events in cities around the world. NaNoWriMo is specifically designed to support writers from start to finish, and once you hit the 50,000 word mark by November 30th at 11:59pm, YOU WIN!
Writers of all ages and all walks of life from all over the world participate in this 30-day writing challenge. NaNoWriMo has even hosted well-known authors such as Erin Morgenstern, Rainbow Rowell, Elizabeth Acevedo, Emily X.R. Pan, and Marissa Meyer. As part of the NaNoWriMo community, these authors have posted pep talks, written inspirational letters for the site to encourage other writers, and participated in live Q&As.
Some of us here at LitJoy have even participated ourselves and we are here to tell you, YOU CAN DO IT!
Tips and Tricks for Writing 50,000 Words
Writing 50,000 words in 30 days is more doable than you might think-–you just need to take the right approach and have a few tricks and strategies up your sleeve. Luckily, we compiled a list of tips you can keep in mind to help keep you on track:
Plan, Outline, and Establish a Story Structure
You don’t absolutely need to have an outline before you start writing. Some people prefer to just dive in and see what comes up! But it definitely helps to stay on track, orient your ideas, and get closer to achieving your goal.
Don’t worry, your outline doesn’t need to be absolutely perfect. You are allowed to make changes as you go. But sketching out your main characters, setting a course of action for them to take, and creating a general outline of what you want your story to be about saves a lot of time and energy when you’re pounding away at the keyboard and making things up as you go.
One helpful resource you can use to help you outline your story is this Save the Cat Beat Sheet . It walks you through the outlining process and helps you plan out your story before you even begin the NaNoWriMo challenge.
Set a Goal
The ultimate goal for NaNoWriMo participants is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. You can break this down by setting a goal for each day. If you truly want to write every single day for 30 days and get to exactly 50,000 words, you would need to write about 1,666-1,667 words per day. If you know you have more time on certain days of the week than others, maybe your goal is to write 3,000 words Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, 1,334 on Thursday and Friday, and take Saturday and Sunday off.
The progress tracking tools available through NaNoWriMo will help, but whatever works best for you, set your goal, set your schedule, and get writing!
Stick to Daily Writing Rituals and Routines
If you are serious about completing 50,000 words in 30 days, you have your goal set, and you know how many words you need to write on which days of the week, then treat those frames of time like they are sacred and stick to a daily writing ritual and routine.
Find a place to write that is free from distractions and works best for you. Maybe you write at your local coffee shop every morning from 8am - 10am. Maybe you have a home office and writing at your desk in the middle of the night works best. Perhaps there is one comfy cardigan you like to throw on to get yourself in writing mode, a specific playlist you like to listen to while you write, or a candle you like to light because the smell helps you get focused and relaxed. Whatever you do, respect that time that you’ve allotted for your writing. Turn off phone notifications, get off of social media, put away lists and distractions, and just write.
Pick Up Writing Tools That Will Make the Process More Enjoyable
Having reliable writing tools and beautifully-designed notebooks and bookmarks can make the writing process just a little more fun and might even give you a spark of inspiration! Here are a few products we have available here at LitJoy that can help you get focused while you write:
This magical Member Exclusive Snake Chamber Notebook is the perfect place to outline a fantasy, gothic, or witchy novel. The cover alone inspires dark magic and mysterious worlds.
If you’re writing a historical fiction novel, then this bookish Feather Pen is a snazzy way to bring you into the past as if you were alongside your own characters.
These beautiful metallic Crystal Pens fit in any pen loop, travel well, and come in three dazzling colors: gold, rose gold, and silver. Throw them in your pencil bag and take them out when inspiration strikes.
Hold your place and come back to your writing with minimal effort with this Bee Tween the Pages Metal Bookmark. Beautifully decorated with buzzing honeybees, this bookmark reminds you that “Between the pages of a book is a lovely place to bee” for when you’re stuck on a page and trying to buzz through writing your next chapter.
This Persephone Lenticular Bookmark shifts from stunning springtime to the dark glory of the underworld, reminding writers that when it comes to writing a novel, the really good days and really tough days come and go, but you will make it through!
Write now, edit later
There is no way you are going to reach your goal of 50,000 words in 30 days if you pause at every page to go back and make edits, or overthink which direction the story is going in. The best thing you can do for your story is to push through, trust yourself and your abilities, and write your way through the sticky spots. Now is not the time for perfectionism. Write first, and make your edits in December.
6. Get Connected with the Writing Community
NaNoWriMo is known for its vibrant, thriving community of writers. You can join in on regional or virtual events, visit the NaNoWriMo community spaces in your area, check out the online forums, join or start your own writing group, and more!
Once you create your account, you’ll have immediate access to loads of discussion topics in the NaNoWriMo writing forum, you can join your regional forum and hop on into the Discord chat, you can join writing groups that pertain to your genre, niche, and specific interests, and you can even search for buddies and chat with them through the site.
Some examples of virtual events they hold are Writing Yoga, Mysteries and Genre Mashups webcast, Writers of Color Virtual Meetup, and the Global Write-In Call. Outside of the virtual world, they also have Come Write In Spaces that you can go into to write in person, meet up with your regional NaNoWriMo buddies, and plan your own hangouts.
What Happens If You Win?
Winners will receive a digital banner and certificate to display proudly, and can purchase an exclusive winner’s T-shirt. But most importantly, the real prize is your completed novel.
The great thing about NaNoWriMo is that once you finish your novel, you can stay in touch with your newfound writer friends to help each other edit your completed work after you’ve written it. There are tons of resources on the website as well that can help you prepare your finished novel and create a pitch to present to a publishing company so that it gets out of writer's limbo and into the world. And yes, NaNoWriMo even has specific forums and groups for, what they call, “Novel Draft Aftercare.”
NaNoWriMo is a fabulous way to help you get in touch with your inner author and get dedicated to writing that story idea you've been neglecting for far too long. If you’ve been thinking about finally cracking down and getting your novel out there for a while, now is the time! So create an account, start outlining, and get writing!