Advice & Tips,  Writing

Why You Should Do NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month is run between 1-30th November each year. The aim is to write 50,000 words. Wait! Before you move away telling yourself you can’t do that, please hear me out.

I’d heard about this Nano thing on and off for ages, but didn’t take it seriously. I thought it was another one of those hype things. Then last year I set myself some goals and one of them was to knuckle down and get my novel drafted. However, I’m one of those who work better under pressure – with deadlines. Otherwise there is always something else that needs doing before I write (as many writers will agree).


So, I looked into NaNoWriMo (Nano for short) and decided to sign up and give it a go. The idea behind it, is to just write – anything – but don’t edit, that comes later. You just get your ideas down in whatever format springs to mind, no matter how rubbish you think it is, until the job is done. Then you have a very good starting point from which to work and do your editing and rewrites. It doesn’t have to be a novel – you can write poetry or short stories, but the idea is to get everything down in the first place rather than procrastinating, which is a common writer’s trait!

I can’t tell you how useful that is. I wasted years overthinking how to start my novel and by doing Nano I wrote 66,000 words in 20 days and I’m now working on my edit.


The week before November, I did a rough outline of my story and I think that helps to kick you off. Remember, chapters are like a jigsaw puzzle – you start with the outside edges and then arrange the inner pieces until they fit properly, but you need your pieces first.

I also did some practical preparation. I decided when I was going to write, told the family I wouldn’t be answering the phone, texts or emails during that time and I got in tins of soup, chocolate and, of course, cake supplies, so that I didn’t have to worry about food. The ironing and housework went to pot during the week, but I planned to leave the weekends free to spend with the family and catch up.

You have to be practical and do what works best for you and I found all that concentration to be exhausting and I needed the weekend to recharge my creativity. I’m fortunate that I can write during the day, but people who work or have young families, will probably find that the weekend is the only time they can write. The point is to plan, and let your family know so they can support you. As it’s only for a month, everyone can accommodate you.


When you register (which is free) on the Nano website, there is plenty of support if you need it. You can put up your daily or weekly word counts on your profile, Twitter and FB if you wish. You can opt to receive encouraging emails and join write-ins and other things on offer.

The fact that you have committed to this, gives you a conscience and makes you determined not to let yourself down and reporting your word counts in public places is also an incentive to carry on until the end. If you stick to your plan but don’t get to 50k, don’t beat yourself up though. You took part, you tried and even if you did half of that, it’s 25,000 words you didn’t have before.

I loved it and got a great sense of achievement when I finished. You can print off a winners certificate and buy merchandise if you wish and if you hit the 50k you receive various offers, such as 50% off Scrivener etc.

My only preference would be that it was run in September or October, so you can keep the momentum going afterwards. I found I was psyched up to keep going, but being near to Christmas, there were too many other distractions that prevented me from doing so. However, I believe they do offer some interim things you can join, until the next November session.

It’s not too soon to sign up now for next November – you can do it!

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  • Graham

    I have participated for the last 5 years but never managed to finish, I suffer from a lack of planning, so I think this year I need to start planning now to be ready. I was also considering doing my own version on NaNo in September.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve tried for roughly 4 years still haven’t managed 50.000 words but it’s better than writing nothing

  • Stephanie Cage

    Definitely! I love NaNo! I’ve finished three times and even the years I haven’t, I’ve got some good head starts on projects. As for people saying they couldn’t do it… how do you know until you try?

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