Pages x
It's time to write your novel (Image via Oxford Writers House)

NaNoWriMo is a month of deadlines and challenges.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which lasts from Nov. 1 through Nov. 31. NaNoWriMo is a chance for any aspiring novelists to test their abilities over creating one 50,000-word novel in a month.

Aspiring authors can sign up at On this site, after creating your profile, you can start writing your novel by setting up the title and synopsis, labeling the region you are writing from, earning badges for reaching milestones, keeping track of your progress, winning rewards and talking to other aspiring and published authors.

Of course, when you are looking into participating in NaNoWriMo, there are do’s and don’ts you need to take into consideration.

DO extensively plan your novel.

Extensively planning your novel means creating a rough outline, developing your characters and planning major scenes. Because NaNoWriMo is focused on quantity of writing, you don’t want to go without having already planned out your novel, your characters or your big scenes. It’s important to have these steps done as soon as possible before continuing to go into November unprepared.

It’s important to enter the month with an extensive plan. You don’t want to spend most of November planning scenes or developing your characters. You want to spend the month writing the actual story.

DON’T forget to write.

Forgetting to write means missing out on a day of writing. Forgetting also means setting yourself back on reaching your final goal.

DO always have a writing tool with you.

Ready your tools to write whenever inspiration strikes (Image via The Reedsy Blog)

Carry a pen (or pencil) and notepad with you everywhere you go. Download Microsoft Word on your phone and connect it to OneDrive so that you can access your notes later on your computer. You never know when an idea or inspiration to write is going to strike. Having writing tools available will also allow you to write any time anywhere.

DON’T talk to others about scenes you haven’t written yet.

If you haven’t written it, don’t talk about it. The last think you want to do is talk in depth with another person about an unwritten scene and then forget about it, which can be frustrating and disappointing.

DO write every day.

Writing every day helps your progress toward your final goal and makes sure you are staying on track. You may end up writing more than originally planned.

DON’T panic if you aren’t hitting your writing goals every day.

If you don’t hit your writing goal every day, stay calm. Chances are you may end up writing more the next day and play a game of catching up. It’s important to remember that even if you don’t hit your daily goal, you can always push yourself later.

DO get an app that helps you personally track your writing.

When you’re trying to reach you daily writing goal, apps that track your writing such as Writeometer come in handy. Writeometer encourages you to meet daily writing goals with certain rewards that you create. The app also has a built-in visual timer to manage the amount of time you focus on your novel.

DON’T criticize your writing.

Even if you have written the worst paragraph, page or chapter, it’s okay because you can revise it when November is over. It’s more important that you are writing something and you are pushing through to the end of the novel. When you revise the draft, you can worry about fixing the mistakes that you made and make the story better.

DO write in chronological order and keep everything backed up.

Writing in chronological order is important. This helps you stay on top of what you are writing. It also ensures that you aren’t missing anything important as your chapters progress.

Also, buy a flash drive, purchase an external hard drive, or set up a OneDrive account. Keep each part of your novel backed up on a site or external device other than your computer. The last thing you want is your computer crashing and losing all your hard work.

DON’T give up.

Never give up on your writing. It doesn’t matter if you feel as if you are stuck on a chapter or a scene; you need to push through. Force yourself to write. Surround yourself with motivational quotes, reread what you have previously written, listen to some music or write the scene from a different character’s point of view. Do anything you can think of to keep yourself writing—just don’t give up.

DO get competitive.

The NaNoWriMo site allows you to add friends from all around the world. You can chat with them and discuss where they are at in their writing goals. Setting up small weekly competitions with a small group of friends can help motivate you to reach your goals. You can even video chat with your new friends as you help keep each other motivated.

DON’T use NaNoWriMo for bragging rights.

If your plan is to participate in NaNoWriMo only to write during the month of November and use NaNoWriMo to say you have written a novel, don’t participate in this event. NaNoWriMo was created for aspiring authors to challenge themselves and meet other writers. To the writers who work all year round and look forward to NaNoWriMo every year, it’s disappointing when someone else uses NaNoWriMo for bragging rights.

National Novel Writing Month is a month-long event that mostly takes place on the internet; writers around the world take this very seriously. If you are thinking about participating in NaNoWriMo, considering all the options and doing your research is the best thing you can do.

If you are participating in NaNoWriMo this year: Happy Writing!

Writer Profile

Angela Herbst

Lakeland University
Psychology & Writing

Leave a Reply