A Quick Start Guide To NaNoWriMo

A Quick Start Guide To NaNoWriMo

Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month? Use our quick start guide to NaNoWriMo to help you.

It’s that time of the year again when everyone descends into the crazy rush to get their stories done in one month.

For those who have never heard of NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. You can read more and sign up here: NaNoWriMo. The goal of the challenge is to write 50 000 words in 30 days. If you write 1667 words per day in November, you will have 50 010 words at the end of the month. (Use this calendar to keep track of your word counts.) You will be part of a huge community of writers who all write together.

It’s fun and it is productive, but do not underestimate the challenge. Some preparations are needed.

A Quick Start Guide To NaNoWriMo

Prep Your Life:

  1. Clear your calendar as much as possible. Complete your tasks this week or postpone what you can until next month. Keep only tasks that are necessary.
  2. Choose a dedicated time to write. Don’t tell yourself you have all day to write. Make an appointment for two hours in the morning and maybe another hour in the evening, but limit your time. You will know how much time you need. Do something else only when you’ve done your bit for the day.
  3. Prep your kitchen. Make it as easy for yourself as possible to prepare dinner for yourself, your family, and your pets.

Prep Your Story: 

You don’t have to plot, but a basic plan can help.

For a simple, fun story you will need:

  1. A goodie (protagonist) who wants to achieve a goal.
  2. A baddie (antagonist) who wants to stop them.
  3. A friend to help them.
  4. A love interest to distract them.
  5. This all takes place in a certain setting with a time constraint.


  1. The inciting moment starts your story. This introduces your protagonist who experiences a moment of change, disruption, or opportunity.
  2. This moment of change, disruption, or opportunity results in the story goal. If this a concrete goal it’ll be easier. (Reach a destination, regain possession of an object, stop the villain.)
  3. This goal is opposed by an antagonist who does not have to be evil. Only in opposition. Don’t hold back if it goes dark though.
  4. Overcoming a personal weakness is the inner conflict.
  5. Pursuit of the goal results in outer conflict. You need both.
  6. Keep the momentum going. That’s why a time constraint is good. Think wedding dates, bombs with timers, departure dates, and birthdays. Anything with a fixed deadline.
  7. End each week with a plot twist or surprise that will kick start the next week’s work.
  8. It helps to have an idea of the end, but it’s not compulsory. The ending can change.
  9. You are writing a first draft. Just keep writing. Don’t go back. Make a note if you want to change anything. You can fix it in the rewrite.
  10. Have fun. Your enthusiasm is going to carry you through.
  11. Weeks 2 and 3 are going to be hard. That’s the middle of the book. It’s hard writing the middle.
  12. Don’t give up. 

The Last Word

Your goal is to reach the word count. Do whatever it takes to do that. You can fix it in the rewrite. Planning usually reduces the number of rewrites, but do whatever it takes to get it done. This challenge is about starting and finishing a book in the shortest possible time. Have fun with it. It’s like Nora Roberts said, ‘I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank page.’ Fill those pages.

If you’re looking for more NaNo posts, explore this tag: NaNoWriMo

Top Tip: Find out more about our workbooks and online courses in our shop.

Mia Botha by Mia Botha

If you enjoyed this post, you will love: 

  1. A Quick Start Guide To Writing YA Fiction
  2. A Quick Start Guide To Writing For Children
  3. The Importance Of Paper When You Plan Your Story
  4. 6 Important Things About Flash Fiction
  5. 7 Ways For Writers To Avoid Getting Overwhelmed By Research
  6. Help! My Protagonist Is A Bore
  7. A Quick-Start Guide For Beating Writer’s Block
  8. How Writing Routines Enhance Your Writing

Top Tip: Find out more about our workbooks and online courses in our shop.

Posted on: 27th October 2021