Monday, December 3, 2012

The Secret to Winning NaNoWriMo

A brief note before I delve into this post:


Moving on. (Actually, I'm still brimming with joy.)
HA! This picture I do own (or, I'm
allowed to use, anyway).
 NaNoWriMo is all about writing 50,000 words in a month. Ideally, this means a full novel, but most novels do go longer. Writing 50k in 30 days is no mean feat; to achieve it, one must write 1,667 words each and every day.

Or do they....?

In this post, I will share with you my secrets to beating this crazy thing we call NaNoWriMo, and if you didn't win this year, hopefully you can use this post for your journey next year (if you sign up again). Many people want to know how to win NaNoWriMo.

The 7 Secrets to Winning NaNoWriMo

1. GET AHEAD. This is the most important secret I have to share, and since I don't like extreme statements, that's is a big deal. Go for 2,000 words a day. If you have ever tried NaNo, you can atest to the fact that once you start writing, you can't stop. So why not write just one page more? There will be days when you do stop writing: bad days, lack of sleep, other plans, etc. November includes Thanksgiving, after all. If you get just an extra 333 a day, you will have a cushion of 9,990 words at the end of the month. This means you can take almost 6 days off! That is a heck of a lot of time; 20% of the entire month.

Because I usually did not get ahead and stayed with 1,667, I had days where I wrote 2-3K just to catch up. When my NaNo was down to the wire and I had 1,568 words on November 30th, I thanked my stars for the nights I wrote ahead. I finished my NaNo by writing 1.7K (which I wrote technically on December 1st after 12 a.m. Shhh.) Getting ahead is the most important thing you can do.

2. Write crap. And I don't mean crap like, "Oh, my writing is so bad but I'll shut my inner editor off just to write it." Not that kind of crap. By crap I mean scenes you will never put in your book.  Every word, every scrap, every sentence you have ever written helped you become the writer you are today. However, do make sure the crap you write in November has some purpose for your book: maybe back story, a love scene, a past event, or history (which is what I used, giving me about 4k). That way, it won't feel like cheating.

What this will do is invigorate your muse. My muse was exhausted, and I needed to write something new, something fresh. So I wrote this historical scene which plays a vital part in the structure of my world. I do not regret doing this at ALL. The scene I wrote gave me so much world building information which I plan to utilize. Use NaNo to make your world and its people as amazing, rich, and complex as possible.

3. Use the community. Check the NaNo blog and the 30 Covers, 30 Days. Participate in the forums (but don't waste time there). Update your word count every night. If you get involved, you'll want to win. You'll get inspired to keep trucking and to keep going. You'll realize you are not alone in this. The writing community is one of the best Internet communities out there.

4. Writing something. I wrote 300 words, but I still wrote. Only one night I wrote nothing, and that was to get sleep. I even wrote on Thanksgiving. If you write every day, you'll get in the habit of doing it. If you stop for one day, the next day, you'll think, "Oh, maybe this day too," and then it'll be a week in, 10k words lost, and you'll be in a rut to win after that. Force yourself to write. You control your muse, not the other way around.
5. Do word sprints. Word sprints are the fad in the NaNo community, and for a reason. If you are falling behind, want to get ahead, or want to make the most of your time, do the sprints. I usually took an hour or two to browse the Internet (as I must) and finish my 1,667 words. I wrote more than 3k in one hour during a sprint. With a deadline, you won't be distracted, and then you can spend the rest of your time on Twitter and stuff.

6. Don't give up. So what if you missed a day of writing? That just means a few extra words for the rest of the month. You can be the person who digs themselves out of a 10k rut. And, don't be discouraged if you are far away from 50k, because the main thing is to:

7. Have fun. Something realize is that NaNo is not only about reaching 50k; it is about writing. So even if you are at 1k on November 29th, keep writing! Everyone is a winner in NaNoWriMo, even if they only brainstormed an idea for a new book.

Winning NaNo was definitely something difficult, and I have to say, getting 50k was an amazing feeling, mostly due to the overwhelming realization that I could sleep now. If you did not win this year, don't feel down. Don't be upset, discouraged, or anything. You wrote. You participated. And that's all that matters. If you decide to do it next year (which I might), keep in mind the above points.

Hope I helped! If you did it, how was your NaNo experience this year, or in past years?

And don't forget to subscribe. It'd probably make my day :D


  1. Congratulations! Getting ahead definitely helps.

  2. Amazing. Truly. I know for me, NaNo changed the way I think about writing--once one completes it, it makes us think we can do anything. So proud of you, SC! Really, really cool.

    1. And I just wanted to say thanks for all your support over on my blog. It means a lot. I'll be posting the remainder of my story tomorrow--it's been a lot of posts, phew, but it feels good to get it out. You are awesome, SC. :-)

  3. Good advice about not wasting time in the forum, especially since your word counts there don't count. :)

  4. Great advice! Write crap is the best one. Just keep writing. It's always better than you think it will be when you go back to do those first edits :)

  5. I'm glad you made it. Because of the demands of my job and three young 'uns, 50K in one month would be VERY challenging. (OK, it's challenging for everyone; so I should amend that to "d@mn near impossible.) So I'm going to create my own personal "NaNoWri2Mo." I'm going to give myself January and February to knock out a novel.

    Anyone care to join me?

  6. Yay for writing 50K in November! Congratulations!

    Unfortunately, for me, every year, I'm always editing in November it seems and it's something important so I never have the time to participate in Nanowrimo.

    Too bad it wasn't in the month of December. I've already written 10K for a first draft of a new novel for December and think I would have participated if it happened during this month instead.

  7. Yay for the win! :)
    I LOVE NaNo & I've done it for several years now. Your first tip is the one I live by. The excitement of the first week always gets me ahead and then I usually bank a few thousand for those days I won't keep up. :)

  8. Congrats!

    I keep hearing about writing sprints. I'm gonna have to try one soon :)