How to Win NaNo

NanoFirst a little history.

In 2009, I participated in NaNoWriMo. Even though I started out behind and had to share a computer with four family members, I managed to win.

In 2010, I had my own computer, so I won in 15 days, which was a really dumb idea. I can’t write that fast without getting exhausted.

I won two more times, then lost in 2014, but that was because I wasn’t serious about it. I’ve also participated in Camp twice this year. I hit over 20K both times. You can see a post about that here.

This year, I won’t be doing NaNo since I’ve got to get my wisdom teeth pulled.

Here are some handy tips for those not used to writing 50K in a month.

Have a plan of attack. Even if you write seat of the pants, plan this one enough so you know where it’s going. It is very difficult to write a ton of words if you have no idea where the story is going. If your’re an outliner, write an outline. It helped me to do this because I knew what happened next, at least until I ran out of outline.

Write 2,000 words a day, not 1667. If you only write the needed goal, it’s too easy to get behind. Once you get behind, it’s hard to get ahead. If you write 2K, that gives you a little cushion if you end up catching a bad cold, having guests over, or go on a trip for Thanksgiving.

Word wars. Find some buddies who are doing NaNo and have word wars. This is when you write for a set amount of time, such as 10-30 minutes, and see who can get the highest word count.

Reward yourself. Try having a special snack you don’t allow yourself to eat until you hit a certain word count.

Set internet limits. If the internet distracts you, don’t let yourself on until you’ve typed a certain number of words. (Word wars are an exception to this rule.)

If you think you can’t win, set a low goal for yourself. This means that when you realize there’s no way to hit 50K, you keep trying and still get to have fun.

Make sure your story is long enough. This is where I run into problems. I often end up with a short story, so I add other stuff on. This leads to a rather weird plot when I throw random things in to add more words. One year, the zombie invasion didn’t last long enough, so the werewolves invaded.

Have a positive outlook. If you think you can’t do it, you probably can’t. Tell yourself you can win, or set a lower goal you think you can hit.


About Jessi L. Roberts

I live and work on my family’s cattle ranch in eastern Montana. I have a flock of chickens, a hyper golden retriever, some cows, and a few horses. I enjoy fantasy and science fiction and my head is full of wild sci-fi story ideas, some involving apocalypses and others involving aliens. I have been published twice in Havok Magazine, an imprint of Splickity.
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6 Responses to How to Win NaNo

  1. Solid advice! I’ve participated in NaNo every year since 2011, and I’ve done a couple of the Camps since then, so I’m a bit of a veteran, lol. I’m doing something a lot different this year though (a series of short stories instead of a novel), and I’m really excited to see how it’s going to turn out. 😀

    Best of luck, may the Force be with you, and the odds ever in your favor.



  2. yay!!! tips for writing, thats a really good idea doing more than needed.


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