Tips & Tricks For Finally Finishing NaNoWriMo

by Melissa Ragsdale
chee gin tan/E+/Getty Images

National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, is here again! NaNoWriMo means that during the month of Novemer, writers around the globe attempt to wrtie a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. This means writing 1,667 words a day. If that sounds like a lot, trust me, it is. But that's why I'm here with these NaNoWriMo tips and tricks for making it through the month.

I've participated in NaNoWriMo over the past couple of years, and I even completed the challenge in 2012. It's an amazing feeling when you reach that final word count. Even if you don't make it all the way to 50,000 words in under 30 days, NaNoWriMo is a great way to give your writing a boost, give yourself a challenge, and commit to your art in a totally new way.

If you haven't signed up yet, go create a page for your novel at Whether you've attempted the challenge before or this is your first time, take a look at my tips, as a NaNoWriMo veteran, for how to survive November and come out of NaNoWriMo feeling like a champ.

As soon as the clock strikes midnight on November 1, I'll be hammering away as fast as I can. We are writers, we are strong, and we've got this. Go forth and NaNoWriMo.

1. Don't let guilt and shame get in your way.

Guilt is one of the easiest ways to lose steam. But just because you may behind, don't let yourself believe that you've already failed. Try to stay confident. You can always pull back ahead.

2. Plan for catch-up days.

Technically #NaNoWriMo requires you to write 1,667 words a day, but be realistic about your schedule and energy level. Between work, school, and family commitments (remember, Thanksgiving is this month), there will certainly be a day that you miss your writing time. Try to write every day, but allot some time to catch up.

3. Write extra words when you have the time/energy.

When you do have the time/energy to write, try to put some words in the bank to help you later when you're more stressed. I usually try to write 2,000 a day. It feels like it's not that much extra, but it can really add up.

4. Go to write-ins and build a support system.

Everything's better when you have a community. This is a crazy thing you're doing, and having others by your side will certainly help encourage you to keep going. Join your local NaNoWriMo community and go to write-ins, or gather some of your friends to make the journey together.

5. Update your word count and use the tools at

Sign up for an account at for the full experience. There is no greater satisfaction for me than watching the word count graph on my dashboard go up as I work on my novel. Plus, has tons of badges, resources, prizes, and more to keep you going. This year, they're pulling out all the stops with a cool space theme.

6. Create a routine.

Whether you write when you first wake up, on your lunch break, or right before you go to bed, find a way to integrate writing time into your every day schedule.

7. Don't wait for an idea to hit you — just get something onto the page.

The biggest thing that NaNoWriMo has taught me is that it's easier to get something down on the page, even if it's awful, than to wait for the perfect words to come. Don't think, just go, and see what you discover along the way.

8. Use prompts and word sprints.

There are plenty of tools to help you. Use prompts to help you generate ideas. Or, set a timer and see how many words you can write in a certain amount of time. The Twitter account @NaNoWordSprints is also a great help!

9. Reward yourself when you reach a benchmark.

Whether it's with something as simple as a cupcake or it's with some official NaNoWriMo swag, don't forget to celebrate when you hit a word goal. Whether it's 5,000 words, 15,000 words, or the full 50,000, you've got a lot to be proud of!

10. Worry about the editing later.

The mantra of NaNoWriMo is to turn off the editor. Don't look back at what you've already written, just keep plunging ahead. Remember, this is only a first draft!

11. When you're stuck, do something active.

Take a walk, do some yoga. Anything that will give you a break from your computer screen. It will help you relax and get the thoughts in your head flowing.

12. Most importantly, stay positive!

It may sometimes be stressfull or feel impossible. But keep in mind that this is a really cool thing you're doing, and you're going to feel really proud when it's over.

Images: chee gin tan/E+/Getty Images; National Novel Writing Month