It’s Not Too Late! Plan and Win NaNoWriMo’s Challenge

Embrace NaNoWriMo Stress

The thrill of November gives me chills of excitement and a wave of nausea. NaNoWriMo is fast approaching, but I have your simple outline and time management know-how to tackle this thing and pin it for the win.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, NaNoWriMo challenges writers into completing 50,000 words in November, creating a full draft of a novel in one month. 

How to win and plan NaNoWriMo and write a first draft of your novel

Is it fun? 

Well, yeah…

Worth it? 
No doubt!

I also want to point out that the challenge is solely against yourself. YOU hold yourself accountable on reaching your goals. And the goal is to write a draft of a novel. Reaching the word goal is great, but writing the draft is even more important.

But, if you’re looking to make the most of your experience, there are a few things you can do in advance.

First thing’s first, do you know what you’re going to write? Do you know how to start your story?

Pantser or Planner?

Are you a pantser? Or, are you a plotter? Both have their pros and cons, but there really isn’t a wrong way to write with either.

Pantser: Writing by the seat of your pants. You forgo planning a timeline, structure, or character arcs. You just write and see where the story takes you.

  • Pro: It’s so much fun to write on a whim because the characters and plot unfold in front of you as if you were reading a fresh book created from your own mind. 
  • Con: It can often be dangerous if you hit a writer’s block halfway through your book or decide to add an element that completely throws off everything you already wrote.

I have been a pantser on occasion and probably enjoy the thrill of writing more than if I plotted… but this method also leaves me editing more in the end. Which is why I lean more toward plotting.

Planner: You plot your story before you write with an outline, timeline, synopsis, etc. Maybe you even build character profiles with backgrounds. 

  • Pro: You know how to start your beginning, where the middle will go, and how to end the whole story. You feel prepared because you have a plan.
  • Con: The process can be time-consuming before you actually start writing your story.

I’ve fallen under both pantser and plotter categories and more often than not I combine the two. I have a draft of an outline in my head with a couple of main characters in mind, and then I fly by the seat of my writing pants to see where it all takes me. 

In terms of NaNoWriMo, it helps to have a semi-plan, so you aren’t just staring at a blank sheet of paper and wasting precious minutes in the month.

Every spare minute in a day counts with NaNoWriMo.

Like everything else with NaNoWriMo, you’re short on time, so here’s a quick way to draft your book:

Outline – A Quick Guide

Premise: What is the story about?

Beginning: How will the book start? Beginning, middle, or end of the story?

Turning Point: When regular life is suddenly changed.

Pinch Point #1: When the character(s) realize the true conflict/challenge they are facing from the sudden change/Turning Pt.

MidPoint: The fun events that occur during the conflict/struggle — the meat of the meal. Developing characters relationships and personalities.

Pinch Point #2: Another difficulty occurs after the character(s) adapt to the conflict/Pinch Pt#1.

Turning Point: Where all the struggles/conflict is taking the character(s) – typically to the most difficult conflict

Climax: Everything is resolved and revealed. The conflict is over. The characters have either prevailed or lost to the struggle.

Time Management

The goal is 50,000 words in 30 days. Spaced out, it is essentially writing 1,666 words everyday for 30 days

BUT, take into account that you may have days on the weekend (ahem, or the looming holiday) when you will miss a day. Soooo, plan to write more on other days. If you’re on a roll and have the time, KEEP WRITING.

Don’t Let the Word Count Intimidate You!

Remember, even if you can’t make your target goal, there is no wasted time in trying. You are still creating a very important first draft of your novel.

I aimed for 2,000 words. It gave me cushion for other days I went slower and couldn’t reach my daily goal. And then I had days where I only reached 1,000 words… It happens.

Knowing your word count may become automatic if you obsess over meeting your mark. Like I did… 

But, try to remember to have fun with it.

Some years I met my 50K-word goal and finished my novel. Other years, I missed it by nearly half (roughly 23,000 words). But, I still had a LOT of writing completed that made a great beginning draft. No regrets!

Reasons to Join NaNoWriMo

Reasons to write a novel in one month and participate in NaNoWriMo
  • Jump Start a New Novel: For me, this is the most important reason to start this challenge. Finish it in November or finish it later. Either way, your novel is finally created. 
  • Creative Writing Community: NaNoWriMo has forums to chat with other writers for support and writing tips. Having a supportive writing group can be invaluable. 
  • Kill Your Procrastination: If having a timetable is the best kick in the pants for you to get your creative writing juices flowing, then NaNoWriMo is the plan you need.
  • Focus, Focus, Focus: When there are so many other tasks on your plate and you need an excuse to focus SOLELY on your novel, NaNoWriMo will provide that focus. 

My NaNoWriMo Experience

The only thing NaNoWriMo costs you is time. LOTS of time. The challenge, support, and forums are free.

It’s a grueling task that requires commitment, planning, commitment, focus, and… did I say commitment?

Win or Lose, It’s Worth It

The struggle is worth a writer’s time.

NaNoWriMo is the only reason I have my current novel, Live to Dream, turning into a series. I started my best project then, and I hadn’t even met my word goal. 

The next time I attempted NaNoWriMo, I found the same magical inspiration for my second novel. And that time, I won! Which means, I met my word goal.

This is why I warn all of my followers in advance that November is a busy month. It’s time to focus on writing. It’s time for NaNoWriMo.

Be My Buddy!

By this time next month, I hope we all have first drafts of our new novel nearly ready to edit. Just go sign up at NaNoWriMo and announce your novel.

Oh, and look for my profile — AMA83 – to add me as one of your Buddies! We can root each other on as we struggle and succeed.

That’s right, NaNoWriMo offers a community of other writers through newsletters, interactive writing sprints, and making ”Buddies” with fellow novelists.

When the going gets tough, we can remind each other that National Novel Writing Month gives us the chance to write a draft in one month. THAT is the goal. And the challenge is forcing ourselves to focus on that novel for an entire month. The word count is just a guideline to keep us on track. So, have fun with it.

Good Luck, everyone!

Comment below to let me know if you’ll be joining NaNoWriMo this year.

What plan of attack will you be using as you slay your novel dragon?

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  1. I’m participating in Nano this year, but this time I’m doing a short story collection instead of a novel. It’ll be fun!

    1. Hello, Priscilla! That’s awesome! I LOVE short stories. Keep me posted on your progress. I’m still editing last year’s NaNoWriMo project. It turned my previous book into a series, so I gave myself a much bigger project.

  2. I have tried in years past and it is fun but this year I won’t be able to devote the time for medical reasons. See you all next November and good luck you all

    Keep laughing and writing

    1. It’s great to do when you have the time, but it’s not something to tackle EVERY year. For example, I’m editing a novel this month, so creating a new one right now isn’t really the best idea for me either.
      Good luck to you, too! Stay safe and well. And, thank you for commenting.

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