Community · Craft

NaNoWriMo advice from WBP

Hi all! Happy NaNoWriMo 2017! Hope you’ve gotten your writing off to a great start. Since our blog is all about advice, inspiration and community we thought we’d all band together to give some advice from our own personal NaNoWriMo experiences and to cheer everyone on!


Meg: I’ve tried NaNoWriMo a few times in the past, but I’m generally too slow of a writer to really get 50k in a month (I also don’t outline soooo). Maybe in the future it’ll work out! But for anyone who has tried NaNo and stopped halfway through or anything, it’s okay. All of the word count updates used to stress me out and I felt like a terrible writer—like I was a huge failure for not finishing. None of that is true. You will write beyond November, you will write until the end of your story, you will get there how you need to. You’re not a failure, you’re a writer with or without NaNoWriMo.

Axie: I’ll channel my WBP Path to Pub post on drafting here and say Nano is about reaching 50,000 words, not finishing a novel (unless you’re writing middle grade – I guess then it’s possible). So, if you need to skip scenes and have {insert description here} moments, then go right ahead. If you just have inspiration for dialogue, write those lines. If you need to write a whole bunch of filler scenes, then do what you need to do. You don’t HAVE to reach 50,000 words (I never have), but if you want to, then go ahead and write whatever you want–to stay inspired and to keep the novel moving forward.

Kat: The best NaNo advice that I have to give is don’t beat yourself up for a bad writing day. If you’re concentrating on what you did “badly” in the past, then it’s going to affect your current state of mind and then that negative mood will just invade your next day and your next and your next until it becomes a domino effect. Just concentrate on what you’re doing now and know that you can always make up the time (And I’d argue that not hitting 50,000 is not losing. You still got words on the page and that’s the whole point of NaNo and writing in general! So writing is a win always)

I also think NaNoWriMo is a great time to experiment with productivity tools and styles to maximize your writing efficiency. I like to try new things every NaNo (and there are always amazing posts every November about new apps and tools to use). For example, this NaNo I’m going to get back into bullet journaling!

Katy: I’ll be honest and say I’ve only “won” NaNoWriMo once and that novel didn’t end up going anywhere after November 30. But I love the whole concept of NaNoWriMo because it’s a challenge, and because, as with any challenge, you might not succeed! But that’s okay. The real point of NaNoWriMo, to me, is about giving yourself permission to carve out time from your day-to-day life for writing.  There’s something really freeing about going all-in on a project for a designated amount of time and seeing what you come up with.

Mara: I’m a definite NaNoWriMo fan, and I probably wouldn’t have drafted my first book (back in 2007, yikes) without it. One thing I have slowly and painfully learned about my process is that I’m a “hands-on” writer. Like everyone, I need breaks to prevent burnout and recharge my creative well, but if I don’t actually have my hands on the keyboard, making words, I’m not reaching my full productivity potential. It’s better for me to go through a series of drafts than to sit and ponder how I can write that one “perfect” revision. My books get better gradually through rounds and rounds of edits, and every word I write is useful, because it helps me develop the world and characters, even if a lot of it doesn’t make the final cut. It’s really helpful for me to throw a lot of stuff at the wall and then see what sticks. If this resonates with you, then producing a volume of work is probably a good method for you, too, and NaNo is a great tool for your toolbox. You don’t have to get it right the first, second, third, or seventeenth time, because you’re creating, and so you’re learning. Sometimes, it can be hard to push yourself to produce something that you already know is going to need fixing–but during NaNo season, you have a whole community of motivators around you who are in the same boat and can harass you if they see you wasting time on social media. I personally love doing the word sprints, on the forums or on Twitter. It’s great to make a point of cutting out all distractions and writing for a solid block of time. Don’t worry if you’re not sprinting as fast as everyone else–you can always sprint with me to make yourself feel better. I’m really slow! But I’m chugging along, and that’s a lot of what writing is about.

Aks: Okay, yes, NaNo at its heart is about hitting that 50k word count, but don’t feel like you can’t do your own NaNo with whatever goals you might have. True, you won’t get that badge on your NaNo profile for “winning” but at the end of the day, the real goal is to just move forward with your WIP.

My favorite thing about NaNo is the sense of community–the idea that so many people are coming together from all over the world to create at the same time. I find that whether or not I’m actually participating in NaNo, the excitement of everyone around me is contagious. So harness that excitement and energy and community and just work on *something* whether that’s brainstorming a new project, revising a written one, or knocking out part of a draft. If you happen to hit 50k, that’s great. If you don’t, that’s great too.

Melody: To those participating in NaNoWriMo, be fearless with what you write and don’t second guess yourself. Take chances. Embrace everything that makes you and your writing something that no one but you can write. If you think you shouldn’t go there, go there. Dig deep. See what happens. If the chance you take doesn’t work at first look, you can scrap it or rework it later. Key word: Later. In November, in this moment, don’t give yourself too much time to doubt. Embrace every word, every sentence, every character, every world. Don’t hold back. Tell your story like you’re around a campfire and a group of kids are hanging on your every word. What story are you going to tell before the sun comes up? Write like you’re running out of time, because in November, you are.

Also, I highly recommend making a Favorites Folder on your web browser to have links leading to words of inspiration from writers. Start your day reading these words or make it a point to read a few of them daily during a writing break. Bookmark inspiring blog posts from writers (especially writers who have won NaNoWriMo and published their NaNoWriMo novels – if that’s your goal). Bookmark NaNoWriMo pep talks that speak to you the most. And for that extra push of motivation, join in on a Twitter writing sprint for a dose of motivation in real time. You can do it!

Ashley: I’ve only “won” NaNoWriMo once, and even with 50,000 words, that manuscript was far from finished. It took another four months or so to hit THE END, and then, after taking a break before revisiting the manuscript, I realized basically all of it was wrong, and I had to scrap most of what I had. But I’d never actually finished a manuscript before, had never gotten to that point of knowing what the story was supposed to be. Hitting THE END is the most important thing you can do, even if the manuscript gets tossed, or put in a drawer, or pulled apart and put back together in a way that is nothing like before, but somehow right.

You don’t have to “win” NaNoWriMo (AKA write 50,000 words) to succeed at NaNoWriMo. If November 30th rolls around and you only have 10,000 words, that is still 10,000 more words than you started with on November 1st. And that is incredible. Use that momentum to write another 10,000 words in December, then another in January. Keep going as long as it takes to reach THE END, even if you don’t hit that point until November 1st, 2018. Not everyone can write like they are running out of time. Go at your own pace, but keep moving forward no matter what. You’ll get there. And when you do, celebrate the hell out of that victory. Give your brain and your fingers some much needed rest. Then get ready to go again. That’s the real point of NaNo, I think: not to write 50,000 words in a month, but to learn how to keep going.

Christine: I’ve won NaNoWriMo twice, lost it once, and, these days, never seem to time out my schedule correctly to draft during November. But I’m seconding Ashley here that it was an invaluable tool that taught me how to finish a book for the first time. NaNo also taught me how much a community of writers can help you grow. Some of the first writers I ever interacted with were the ones on the NaNoWriMo forums and message boards. The advice and commiserating they gave me helped me realize that writers need each other, even though the actual act of writing is something you do by yourself.

Be NaNo buddies with WBP!

Do you have any NaNoWriMo advice? Let us know if the comments below!

One thought on “NaNoWriMo advice from WBP

  1. I have a novel I am planning to write, but at the moment I think my comic book idea needs most of my attention.

    So I’m gonna have a NaCoWriMo 😉
    Hmm, that is so good of a blog title that I may have to use it later..


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