5 Tips for NANOWRIMO

nanowrimoWe’re a week into NANO for this year. How’s it going for you? Are you hitting the target of 1,667 words per day?

Or are you feeling so far behind you’re ready to quit? Please don’t. NANO has value. Maybe not for every writer, but for many of us it’s the opportunity to produce a significant amount of work, work we can build on.

Here are 5 tips to help you negotiate the rest of November.

Tip 1 Is NANO right for you?

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Many writers get caught up in the excitement, enthusiasm and community of NANO. Writers all over the world are doing it. Probably several people in your local critique group are doing it. You feel the adrenaline and you want to be part of that. Then you can’t do it. You can’t churn out the word count. You fall further behind each day. And the pressure to quit competes with the pressure to be participating. And you plug away out of guilt.

NANO isn’t for everybody. Our personalities and our writing habits may not be conducive to what NANO calls for.

For some, NANO may be right but not this year. Family, work, church and other commitment call for us. And those calls need to be responded to.

So make that assessment and decide if NANO is right for you.

An alternative to consider is to select another month and do NANO then. My local writers group chose not to do NANO in 2015. Instead, we chose February of 2016 and called it WANIF: Write a Novel in February. We set daily writing goals and reported to our Facebook group page everyday. We had both accountability and encouragement each day.

Tip 2 Set Realistic Goals

MP900387254Maybe 1,667 words are too much for one day but the idea of writing significant chunks every day is appealing.

For me, with my workload right now, I can’t reach 1,600 words every day. But I can do 1,200.

In Scrivener, I set a word target for the day. The program records my progress and when I hit 1,200 words, it pops up a banner and dings a tone.

Tip 3 Set a Time to Write


We’ve all heard this before. Be intentional. Identify your best writing time and make sure you use it to write. Mine is in the morning. I also set a timer when I write. This forces me to stop and take a break. I write for an hour, take a ten-minute break, and then write for another hour. And I usually hit my goal before the second hour is up. So I keep going for the full amount of time.

Tip 4 Be Accountable

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For many of us, this could mean joining the online NANO forums and posting our words counts every day.

Even more effective is having local accountability. This year, my critique group is participating in NANO and we use our Facebook group page and our weekly meeting just as we did in February.

Tip 5 Set Realistic Expectations of Your Results

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In NANO, we are writing fast and furious everyday. And that’s great. We’re getting the words down.

We have to remember, with NANO, the goal is quantity, not quality.

We not only have to turn off our internal editor, we have to lock it in the dungeon and throw the key in the moat.

At the end of the month we will have a pile of glop. That is fine.

In December, we release the editor and let him tear into it. Because now we have something to work with. An advantage to this is that we also have a good idea of the story as whole, which will make the editing process more directed toward the story goal.

What tips have you’ve learned to survive NANO?

2 Responses to 5 Tips for NANOWRIMO

  1. Diane Bohannan November 9, 2016 at 2:22 pm #

    Great advice! I like the idea of locking the internal editorial in a dungeon! That’s the only way I can get through NaNo. Good luck, Henry!

  2. Henry November 9, 2016 at 5:18 pm #

    Thanks, Diane. You are my NANO hero!

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