18 Sure Fire Ways to Write a Novel in 30 Days.

NaNoWriMo is held over the month of November each year and sets the lofty goal for writers to complete a first draft of their novel, with a NaNoWriMominimum of 50,000 words, in just one month. The acronym stands for: National Novel Writing Month (although it is very much an international event these days) and attracts writers of all abilities, genres and ages.

50,000 words in one month is quite a challenge, but it is achievable (as many NaNoWriMo winners with affirm). Here you’ll find tips to ensure NaNoWriMo success.

How to win NaNoWriMo

  1. Plot ahead – Having a detailed plot outline will help you navigate through your 50,000 words. Consider listing all the things that could possibly happen in your story, write them up on index cards. You can arrange them into an order, or simply draw a card whenever you’re stuck for ideas.
  2. Or, don’t plot – If November 1 rolls around and you haven’t planned your story, now is not the time to start. Just get writing and keep writing until you reach your goal of ‘the end’, or 50,000 words. If you get stuck for ideas, put in some unexpected events, have your protagonist sit down for a cup of tea with their enemy, introduce a madman with a gun. You’ll boost your word count, and it’s all great practice to improve your writing skills. If you don’t like it, you can delete it in the edits.
  3. Keep a journal – Not for yourself, for your characters! Writing diary entries from a character’s point of view helps you understand their goals and fears. It can also add to your word count, you could include them in your story.
  4. Set a daily word count – If you write every day for 30 days, you’ll need to hit 1,667 words per day to reach 50,000. It would be wise to assume there will be days where things go wrong, or other tasks steal your time. By aiming for 2,000 words per day, you’ll have some ‘buffer’ days.
  5. Ignore your daily word count – When you’re on a roll, keep going! Don’t stop just because you hit your word count. Some days the words will flow better than others. Take advantage of those days.
  6. Meditation – Taking as little as 5-10 minutes, before you start writing, to clear your mind can drastically improve your focus on your story. You’ll also be less distracted while you write. There are many recordings you can download for your smart phone to help guide you through visualisation techniques and spark creativity.
  7. Record your dreams – Dreams are a great source of story ideas, you could be creating your novel while you sleep.
  8. Guide to winning NaNoWriMoTurn off the television – You should be writing, you can catch up on your favourite shows in December.
  9. Take time to socialise – Join your local NaNoWriMo group for the meet ups. You can enjoy a cuppa, company, and get some words down while you’re there. They’ll also be a good support network when you’re feeling lost in your manuscript.
  10. Don’t research – Make up facts and get history wrong. Just keep the flow of the story. You can do the research later and fix any mistakes.
  11. Leave that long time project – NaNoWriMo is a good time to start a new novel. You’ll be too attached to that story you’ve been planning for years, and you won’t have time to dwell on every decision you make for your novel.
  12. Forget perfection– Repeat after me – ‘This will be a crap draft, but at least I’ll have a draft.’
  13. Broadcast – Tell everyone you know that you’re attempting the huge task of writing a novel in 30 days. This will give you accountability, no one wants to admit they failed. Hopefully it will also show your family you’re serious, their support can make all the difference.
  14. Go for a walk – Morning walks are great to give you time to contemplate your plot problems and find solutions. It’s also a good way to make sure you get some exercise, because you’ll be sitting at your computer a lot this month.
  15. Kill a character – Death in your novel will always help with your word count. It creates a lot of alternate story lines, how will the other characters react?
  16. Read a book – You’ve heard the saying ‘refill the well’, you’re pouring your creativeness onto the pages each day, take some time to replenish your creative mind with stories at the end of the day. If you’re too exhausted to read, try listening to audiobooks.
  17. Ditch the housework – You won’t have time for visitors, so why stress about the cleanliness of your living room and hallways? The family can learn how to cook meals and wash their own clothes for one month.
  18. Stay offline – It’s no secret the Internet sucks our time away. Don’t get online until you’ve met your word count for the day. The World Wide Web will still be there in December, even if you don’t blog, tweet or like posts in November.

How to Think SidewaysNeed some help?

Using a writing course or text can guide you through the process of writing your novel, and strengthen your writing skills along the journey. Holly Lisle’s How to Think Sideways will teach you everything you need to know to write a novel.


  1. Hey Charmaine. You found yourself a great comment system. I’ve read Baty’s book and that’s what first inspired me to try the NaNo thing. But this year I haven’t been able to get outlining. Not sure how I’m going to participate.

    Those ads? Let me know if you make any money…

    Also, the right hand side of your blog title is cut off on my computer. You might like to look at it in case there’s a problem. I can see Charmaine, but no Clancy.

    Denise Covey recently posted…Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani schoolgirl is my current hero. WHO’S YOUR HERO? blogfest to announce J L Campbell’s novel, Saving Sam.My Profile

    • Hi Denise,
      Happy the comment system worked well for you. No plot? No problem! Or that’s what Chris Baty promises anyway. You can test out his system 🙂

      Hopefully my affiliate adverts are not interfering with the reader experience, I have tried to place them in a non-imposing position. They do generate a little revenue, time will tell if it is a worthwhile addition to the site.

      Charmaine Clancy recently posted…18 Sure Fire Ways to Write a Novel in 30 Days.My Profile