Skip to main content

Your NaNoWriMo Survival Guide: Before, During, & After

Writing a novel in 30 days can be quite a challenging task, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Go into it prepared with this quick-and-easy guide.

Writing a novel in 30 days can be quite a challenging task, physically, mentally and emotionally. So when you set out to do it this November during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), go into it prepared with this quick-and-easy guide of what you can do before, during and after to make the most out of the event.

This guest post is by Grant Faulkner. Faulkner is the executive director of National Novel Writing Month and the co-founder of the literary journal 100 Word Story. He has published stories & essays in dozens of publications.

Grant_Faulkner_Profile_1
no-plot-no-problem-baty-chris-9780811845052

Follow on Twitter @grantfaulkner.

Also, order the guide written by NaNoWriMo founder Cris Baty, No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days.

BEFORE

1. Tell your friends and family that you are doing NaNoWriMo. The risk of public embarrassment has fueled many a grand creation. When they ask how you’re doing, you don’t want to say, “I quit.” Who knows, maybe they’ll wash the dishes for you.

2. Go on a time hunt. You’ll need approximately two hours a day to write. For one week, track how you spend your time—from forays on Facebook to commuting to work. What can you give up, or do another way?

3. Don’t overprepare. Don’t underprepare. A thorough outline can box you into a stultifying corner; an idea that lacks marinating can go flat in an instant. Indulge in casual rumination and note-taking in October, then write like a dervish during November.

[What Makes NaNoWriMo Work? Click Here to Find Out.]

DURING

1. Banish your internal editor. Let your imagination loose. Write boldly, in bounding strokes. Your inner perfectionist will come running back to revise later. 

2. Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Your imagination may be giddy at being let out during Week 1. Take advantage of that rush and get ahead of your word count. Week 2 looms ahead like a black hole in NaNoWriMo lore. Plan to get through it. 

3. Write to the end of the story. The middle of a first draft can be a swamp of quicksand. If you have to, fill in some scenes with shorthand to ensure your experience that satisfying shoot-out at the climax. Most novels are longer than 50,000 words. You can fill in the flesh once you’ve uncovered the bones.

AFTER

1. Keep the momentum going. You just spent 30 days digging for a precious treasure: creativity. Don’t let it go. If you had any doubt before, you’re a writer now. You might need a break for a week or so, but then keep writing.

2. Form a writing group. You’ve tapped into a community during NaNoWriMo. Keep meeting, whether online or in person. Encouragement breeds more encouragement. These partners can make good beta readers, too.

3. Don’t fear revision. It can be just as creative and playful as writing a first draft. Take advantage of the resources and activities available in NaNoWriMo’s “I wrote a novel, now what?” revision support program at nanowrimo.org/now-what in the months that follow.

Get your NaNoWriMo Prep Kit here.
Includes 9 great resources for 1 heavily discounted price.
Limited time only.Click here to order.

wd_30daysfinishednovel-500

Thanks for visiting The Writer's Dig blog. For more great writing advice, click here.

brian-klems-2013

Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog, online editor of Writer's Digest and author of the popular gift bookOh Boy, You're Having a Girl: A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Sign up for Brian's free Writer's Digest eNewsletter: WD Newsletter

Why You Should Beware Homophones

Why You Should Beware Homophones

Mistaking a word for a similar one is not an uncommon mistake, but an important one to catch when editing your work, Here, Audrey Wick shares why you should beware homophones and shares a homophone-catching test to practice with.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Blackmail

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Blackmail

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, one character blackmails another.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

30 Poetry Prompts From 2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Get all 30 poetry prompts from the 15th annual November Poem-A-Day Chapbook Challenge here. Actually, 35 prompts if you're counting Two-for-Tuesday prompts!

How to Stalk Publishing Professionals on Social Media in an Appropriate Way

How to Stalk Publishing Professionals on Social Media in an Appropriate Way

Many people are self-professed "stalkers" on social media, whether they're following life events of friends or celebrities. But writers can learn quite a bit on social media by stalking publishing professionals too, and this post covers the appropriate way to do so.

Vérant

Samantha Vérant: On Romance and Recipes

Author Samantha Vérant discusses how her writing process changed while writing her new contemporary romance novel, The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 633

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a warm up poem.

Do I Pitch Different to Agents vs. Editors?

Do I Pitch Different to Agents vs. Editors?

Every so often writers ask if they should pitch different to agents vs. editors. This post answers that question and provides some extra help on how to successfully pitch both.

Urban Legend

Urban Legend

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, feature an urban legend in your story.

Grose, 12:6

Jessica Grose: On the Unsustainability of Parenting

Opinion writer and author Jessica Grose discusses the complicated subject of modern motherhood in her new nonfiction book, Screaming on the Inside.