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How to Have Fun and Win NaNoWriMo

writing on a computer

Even the most dedicated writers need support. Here’s how to make it through your novel while staying (mostly) sane.

NaNoWriMo, which happens every November, is a challenge to write a novel in one month. The exact goal for participants is to write 50,000 words is 30 days. It works out to about 1,666.6 words per day.

Your reward for all this hard work? Bragging rights, a draft manuscript, and the personal satisfaction of having crossed something massive off your bucket list.

My NaNo toolkit. Not pictured: mountains of snacks.

But if you’re serious about writing, some participants have even gone on to publish the novels they created during NaNoWriMo. With hundreds of excellent self-publishing services available today, there’s nothing stopping you from turning your pages into an actual printed novel.

It might might sound straightforward, but even the most dedicated among us need a place to start. Everyone needs a good support system in place before such a massive undertaking, so let’s explore some tips for making it through NaNo successfully.

No Plot? No Problem!

I can’t recommend this book enough. Written by NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty, it takes all the stress and worry out of the novel writing process and keeps you focused on velocity. Baty’s tips will help you keep your head down and the words flowing. I used it to help me successfully complete NaNo in 2011.

Build an Emergency Kit

This is not a drill! NaNo can be stressful if you don’t have some fun. Just look at what Terri Brown, author and NaNoer, has in her kit: chocolate, cheerleaders, and Twitter handles. My favourite thing she packs is a healthy dose of denial because remember “writing 50,000 words in a month is not normal.”

Always Back Up York Work

It doesn’t matter if you use a flash drive, USB key, Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, external hard drive or any other form of back-up, just use it and use it often. You can’t afford to lose any work. Personally, I use Dropbox, a USB key and a local copy. I work on the local copy and then sync my work at the end of each writing session.

Keep the Finish Line in Sight

This is the tricky one, you need to keep your sights set on reaching your goal, even if it means other things fall to the side. Daniel Wallace, author of Big Fish was asked about his tips for finishing a draft and he said “Commit to having a messy house—it means you have your priorities straight.” Another oft-sighted tip is to stop editing as you go. Your first draft will have mistakes — that’s OK! You will have time to edit after you’re done.


NaNo isn’t fun by yourself. Get involved, even if it’s just creating a profile and checking your word count. The NaNo community is full of users who are there to cheer each other on. It’s a great place to get your dose of daily writing inspiration.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? You can join us this month! Add me as a buddy on by searching “RCRwriter.”