How to win at NaNoWriMo

You could, if you wanted to, copy and paste 50,000 (or your chosen target for this challenge) random letters into the validation tool at the end of the month.

It would give you a win, but you’d really only be cheating yourself.

When I did my first November NaNoWriMo back in 2011 (all those years ago!) I had no idea whether I would be able to do it so I took to the forums and picked up a few tricks.

1. Use long double names for each character.
Names like Fredrick Joe and Sally Marie are great. Have your character insist their full name is used each time.

2. Do not use contractions.
No more “it’s”, “isn’t”, or “don’t”. Make it part of your style for this particular work.

3. Have a character who swears a lot.
If you don’t mind a few curse words that is. Be inventive with them too; imaginative combinations can add humour to the story.

4. Have a character who uses long sentences or finds it hard to get to the point.
This can be great when combined with or instead of the swearing method as it adds the potential for interesting dialogue which can push your work in a new direction.

5. Describe all of the things.
See that chair over there? Describe it. See the way the lamp lights the room? Describe it.

6. Give your character an inner monologue.
This can depend on which POV you’ve chosen but can add an unexpected depth to your character.

7. Copy and paste.
If it’s suitable, you can use a small amount of copy and paste. It gives the novel a groundhog day feel, and can be used to symbolize repetitive behaviour, or a week of mundane existence.

8. Use song lyrics
You’ll need some permissions if you want to use the lyrics in a published novel otherwise you could find yourself in trouble, but your character can certainly be overly appreciative of lyrics in the first draft.

9. Write every day.
The one thing you will notice about NaNoWriMo is that if you miss one day, you’ll very quickly find yourself becoming disheartened by having to find the additional words the following day. Writing every day, even if you don’t meet your wordcount, will get you in the right mindset and stop you falling too far behind.

10. Take five minutes out before doing your daily bit to plan what you’re going to write.
The blank page looks less daunting if you have a vague idea what you want to put there.

11. You are writing a first draft, so don’t worry too much about having additional names, or too much swearing, or big chunks of description. You can cut these in the editing phase if you need to.

12. Write. A lot. As often as you can.

13. It’s not supposed to be a chore.
It is supposed to push you and it is supposed to be hard, but it’s not supposed to give you a breakdown.

14. Be easy on yourself.
If you miss your target, or can’t write because real life has got in the way, that’s ok.

15. Winning isn’t everything
If you get 10,000 words of a story you’ve been trying to find time for, then you’ve won. Get the words down, get them out.

Most importantly, the best way to win NaNoWriMo is to have fun.

On your marks… Get set ….

April 1st, here we come!

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2 responses to “How to win at NaNoWriMo

  1. judithkingston

    I’m already freaking out about the amount of work stuff I have been asked to do in April since signing up. But as you say, even if I manage to write 10000 words on the novel that I otherwise might not have managed, it’s a win.

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