How to Win National Novel Writing Month

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How to Win National Novel Writing Month

Just how do you win National Novel Writing Month?


Write 50,000 words of fiction during the 30 days of November. No problem, right?

Okay. Maybe it’s not that simple, but thousands have done it.

But how?

The single most effective way to win National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is not what you might think.

It is not writing every day although that will certainly help, and forming a daily writing habit is one of the long-term benefits NaNoWriMo can provide.

It’s not getting ahead early although that too will boost your word count and may carry you through Thanksgiving and Black Friday which have derailed many a wrimo.

It is not having a fully developed plot by mid-October and, frankly, it’s way too late to worry too much about your plot now.

Its not filling your cupboard with snacks. But hey. Snacks! No one’s going to turn those down.

It’s not buying the winner shirt ahead of time or donating so you get that laurel wreath but that helps stay afloat.

It is not having a massage therapist on speed dial. But most folks wouldn’t turn one of those away either.

It is also not having the perfect writing space or the perfect writing tools or the perfect writing music. Nopety. Nope.

What is the single most effective method to win NaNoWriMo?

Go to the Write-Ins!!

During November, attend as many write-ins as you can possibly manage. Wrimos who attend write-ins usually achieve their November goal.

What is a write-in?

It’s a bit like study hall, but with snacks. It’s similar to co-working, except the “boss” is friendly and may use stickers to cheer you on. It may resemble the library (or even be at the library) except you can talk . . . a little . . . and everyone brings their own laptop (or typewriter or notebook or tattoo needle or chisel) instead of using the library computers.

What should you expect at a write-in?

A write-in offers a sweet blend of camaraderie and peer pressure. The room is quiet. Eventually, one brave soul begins to type. Then, another takes to the keyboard. Then, a third. Soon, you’ll be the only one left not pounding the keys. When this happens, either a soothing swell of creative energy will lift you into the ocean of writing or a tidal wave of shame will smash you toward the keys. Either way, words will soon appear on your screen.

At some write-ins, a word war or word sprint may break out. Join in! The Municipal Liaison (ML) or a fellow wrimo will set a timer and off you’ll go to either see how many words you can write in a given time or see how long it takes you to write a chosen number of words. The winner might win a prize – usually a sticker or a snack!

Expect random giggling as a wrimo cracks herself up with her own wit or a gasp as someone makes a lightning flash connection that sets their novel on fire. People might ask questions or answer yours. But most of all, the group will be together, flailing away at this nearly impossible task. You’ll realize you’re not alone. That will carry you through.

No matter where you live, every region offers write-ins for your pleasure. On the NaNoWriMo site, click “Find a Region” under the “Community” tab and either allow the site to find your location or use the map to locate the closest region. By joining a region, you’ll get the latest news from your ML and learn about these magical word-generating parties!

Now get to work!