How To Finish NaNoWriMo

nanowrimo thing

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, you obviously don’t have Twitter.

That’s all I can say. But chances are that you probably DO know what NaNoWriMo is, and if you’re reading this post, you might be desperately trying to finish those 50,000 words.

I’ve done this thing five times now: November 2012, June 2013, November 2013, June 2014 and now November 2014. As I’m writing this post, I just wrote the 57,255th word and finished my (shortest ever) NaNo novel.

Out of the three times I’ve done the November version, I’ve finished the whole novel every time – in 2012 that was over 70,000 words. And fair enough, I was in year nine – I had nothing else to do except bludge in maths (I feel sorry for my teachers).

But it’s been busier for me every year, and this time around, I didn’t even think I could do it.

My inner voice was like:

There are ways, though, to do it.

1) Make goals for yourself. And writing every day really does help.

Your goal might not be 50,000 – it might be less. But I did mine in lots of 1000 words. Then I would reward myself (lots of chocolate was harmed in the writing of this novel). And during the month of November, it really IS good to write every day – it keeps you into the story. I find that if I miss one day I’m more likely to miss more.

2) Set aside one day in the month and write a LOT.

This might be impossible for you – it almost was for me. I have school five days a week and then work on Saturdays and Sundays, plus a lot on top of that. But one Sunday two weeks ago, I decided I was going to write 10,000 words. Which is quite a lot of words in one day. It might be easier to set aside one day, though, than a few hours every day.

3) Seriously, though, don’t listen to your inner editor.

My novel is probably the worst thing that has ever been created.

But fast-drafting means that you can’t worry about that. And I got very worried. I was like, “but my first draft is WORSE than everyone else’s first draft.” And then I remind myself that I don’t keep a single word in the second draft anyway, so it doesn’t matter.

You cannot be worrying about how awful your words are. Trust me. In these last few days, just belt them out and don’t look back.

4) Music!

Music has been really helpful to me this time. Last year I listened to Disney songs. This year I listened to Birdy on repeat. Whatever works for you! But music helps get me in the zone and blocks out everything else.

5) Food.

Embrace your inner Jennifer Lawrence (everyone has one, don’t lie to yourself).

You need fuel to write. And if that fuel is chocolate, all the better. Props to you if it’s carrot sticks or something, as well. That’s self-restraint.

6) Writing sprints.

These are honestly the best way to write, I’ve found. My best was about 1500 words in half an hour, and that can really make a difference to your word count – that’s almost a whole day’s worth. And obviously some parts are harder to write than others, but if you can get a solid amount done in half an hour, all the better.

Give a shout-out on Twitter, and you might have some people joining you. @FriNightWrites also has awesome sprints going.

7) Outline.

Even if you’re a pantser, it’s useful in these last few days to write an outline of where you’re going so that you can write as quickly as possible. You’re not going to get there if you’re floundering around wondering what’s happening.

8) Write something fun.

Whatever genre you’re writing, if you have a fun scene, you’re more likely to want to continue writing it. A “fun” scene for you might not be fun at all – I like writing sad scenes, for instance. But it helps to remind me WHY I’m doing this. First drafts make me fall in love with writing all over again.

9) And most of all, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get there.

I’m in high school. I have more time than most. Which is why I can afford to spend my time on this – but not everyone DOES have that time. Remember that every word you wrote is more than you had at the start of November. I’m proud of all of you. Hugs.

Good luck, everyone! I’ll be cheering.


Emily Mead is currently procrastinating on study. She does this a lot.

Future Emily isn’t going to be very happy.

She wishes you luck with NaNoWriMo and assures you that her first draft is 90 million times worse than yours.





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