7 Steps to NaNo like a Champ


Step One:

Decide you’re going to it. Sign up, read the FAQ’s Page, find some buddies, complete your profile. OK, that’s like 5 steps in one, just trust me.

Step Two:

Tell everyone you know you’ll be writing a novel in November and not to count on you for PTA meetings, dinner parties (hosting or attending!), prepping your high schoolers  for mid-terms, changing diapers (infants or seniors), cooking, cleaning, showering. You get my drift. However, please remember to use bathroom breaks and occasionally swish with Scope (not just coffee.)

Step Three:

Brainstorm! You’ve already fantasized about writing a novel, now you’re going to it. You need an idea or two. You can begin with a character: human, zombie, alien, animal? What are they like? What do they want? Who or what will stop them? OR, like the Master of Horror suggests: start with a situation. (not, “The Situation”) Victim gets revenge, Boy finds secret porthole to the past, Woman desperate to have a child turns to desperate solution. Still with me? Why? Go jot down your ideas!

Step Four:

Map it out. Writing 50,000 words in one month takes a lot of energy and a plan. The rules say you cannot begin writing your novel before the clock strikes Nov 1, but mapping out an outline, character sketches or a plot arc will give your journey focus. (That and  a lot of caffeine!) For a ton more helpful tools/links, click HERE

Step Five:

Schedule it! My theory is “write it down, get it done.” If it’s on the calendar, you are more likely to commit and submit (as in “Yes, Master Novel, I will write thee.”) Take out a calendar of November and survey the dates you’ll realistically write.  Fro instance, my birthday is on the 5th (hint-hint: I love Dunkin Donuts coffee, cool bookmarks and tons of Post-Its!) and my husband and I usually go away for a few days, which means I devote my time to him, not the novel. Also, if you’re in the US, Thanksgiving weekend can be a bonus or a burden. WARNING: some math involved. So, decide now which days/hours you can sneak away from family and turkey to write. Then, calculate the days you can commit, divide that number into 50,000 = the number of words you must write each scheduled day of writing to reach your goal. Example: I can commit to writing 25 days in Nov.  So, 50,000 / 25 = 2,000 words a day, which comes out to about 6.5 pages typed, double spaced. Ugh. Sorry I did that now. *bangs head*

Step Six:

Assemble your supplies: your notes; worksheets on characters, plot, scenes, etc; index cards, pens/pencils, working computer (to “validate” your novel on Nov 30, it must be uploaded into NaNo’s magic word counter, hence, must be typed – better to write directly on your computer) SAVE YOUR WORK!!!!! (gratuitous reminder). Keep your fav. drink nearby, along with snacks, tunes and something to distract your brain, eyes and hands for brief breaks.

Step Seven:

Reward yourself! Little incentives go a long way. Deciding to write a novel and actually doing it, separate the mice from the literary geniuses ; ) So, when you reach your daily goal, treat yourself to a latte or spiced green tea, or a new notebook, or a walk through the leaves, or a few hours of Jersey Shore reruns (or Hell’s Kitchen or What Not to Wear–my personal guilty pleasure!) Remember – baby steps.  Chip away at that novel one word at a time. Then repeat 50 thousand times. *wink*


Ready to Nano? Need that motivation to go on each day? SUBSCRIBE and my blog posts will appear in your inbox showering you with literary wisdom.


Filed under Advice, goals, NaNoWriMo

10 responses to “7 Steps to NaNo like a Champ

  1. PoeticQueen

    Wow – Thanks! I really needed this. I’ve started a novel and really want to finish it but i’ve had trouble staying consistent. I’m eager to try this method out. Thanks for the helpful advice!

  2. All good advice. You need to plan, or it really will be horrible and you’ll soon be mired in feelings of abject pointlessness. But it could all be rather fun – especially with the other NaNowers suffering alongside you.

  3. OMG, Mary Jo! I’m doing it this year. And I’m TOTALLY freaked out. Thanks for the easy tips! They kept me from hyperventilating. 🙂

  4. ayunda

    Awesome! I’m joining the Young Writers Program, but I’m still very excited!!

    • ayunda,
      You go! I get so excited when young writers join this crazy month. I’m on the YWP as well, as a teacher. You can find me: MJCwriter – make me your buddy and we’ll cheer each other through

  5. Liz

    This is so great. I’m saving this in my favorites – wonderful advice and with a fun edge.

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