How to do NaNoWriMo (badly)

This November I am attempting the marathon of novelization, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is where you try to write 50,000 words in the month of November. It’s short for National Novel Writing Month. Founded in 1999, it is now an international happening forcing writers across the globe to get their letters in order and write the damn thing. It’s a great way to get those creative juices going (or to force them out of your body with a literary dagger).


I am attempting NaNoWriMo very badly – you see, although I’m a fairly dedicated writer, I’m lousy at this life thing that seems to get in the way. There’s the book club, where I had to dunk all my spare time into reading, then there’s the things that pay the bills, then there’s… yep, excuses, excuses. I’m trying to write a collection of short stories with the working title of “The Rule of Rogues”. It’s about, well, rogues. Going on quests. And stuff.


So this is my guide on how to do NaNoWriMo (badly). I’ve taken my tips from the experts who seem to be doing far better than my own mediocre example.

1. Set aside time to write

I write every Friday, but it’s not enough to clunk out 12,000 words in one day. Frankly my brain can’t suffer these outrages. It hurts too much. Set aside dedicated time each day to get the required 1700 words or so to meet the target. Don’t be lazy like me.

2. Choose a project and stick with it

Don’t flit from book to book, idea to idea. Pick a project and stick with it. My goal this month is to get a number of saleable short stories written, but at the moment I’m only halfway through my first. Still, if I finish this, I’ll be happy.

3. Do it next year

Even if you don’t “win” (the NaNo term for completing the 50K), you’ve got the experience of doing it the first time, so try to get more words the following year.

4. Prepare the month before

Instead of spending your time researching when you could be writing, prepare an outline, ideas, scraps of manky serviette with indecipherable scribblings beforehand.

5. Join a local meet up

No one can write in a vacuum, so it’s great to meet other writers and type silently together. No getting distracted by other authors, cupcakes or the nacho special in the food court.


Even if I bail out around the 20K mark this year, I’ll be happy that I’ve progressed with my writing. Now’s the time for me to say something about us all being winners, but I’m not that lame. I’m still going to buy a t-shirt.

To participate in NaNoWriMo, sign up on their website.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? What are you working on?


2 responses to “How to do NaNoWriMo (badly)”

  1. Cassandra Emily Avatar
    Cassandra Emily

    Nice article! I’m doing NaNoWriMo for the first time this year, and I’ve had uni assignments keeping me busy for the first half of the month… I’m hoping to at least get a start on it, even if I don’t ‘win’ until the middle of next month!

  2. Hi Cassandra! Hope things are still going well for you even if you don’t make it to the full 50K this month. Thanks for your comment 🙂 Kat

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