NaNoWriMo Tools and Tips

It’s that time of year again when writers attempt to write 50,000 words in one month for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It’s a challenge that started in 1999, and while I don’t intend to participate this year, I thought I would pass on some information and tools for those who are participating.

  • The official NaNoWriMo website offers a place to keep track of your word count, connect with other participants and offer encouragement and support. According to the website, over 380,000 people participated last year, and they anticipate over 400,000 this year. They even have a Facebook page with helpful information.
Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month
  • Check with your local public library, some of them have special events and offer rewards if you complete your 50,000 words.
  • To meet the goal, the average daily word count needs to be 1,667. I created an easy-to-use spreadsheet to track your daily word count and track how many words you have left for the month.
  • A quick outline can keep you focused and know where you’re going with the story. I’m more of a gardener (allows the story to unfold) than an architect (plotter) when it comes to writing, so I’m not big on outlining, but the last time I participated in NaNoWriMo, I knew the major dates in the timeline of my story, and I jotted down notes on scenes that I knew would take place at some point. When those scenes made it into the manuscript, I crossed them off. This is the closest I’ve ever come to outlining, but it helped with meeting my goal.
  • Try to get ahead of your word count early so you’ll have a few free days to spend with your family, or for those times when you just need a break.
  • Do not edit while your writing for this challenge.
  • If you get stuck on a scene, skip to the next scene. Our mind has a way of working on problems while it’s busy doing something else, so the answer may come to you and then you can go back and fill in the missing part. If not, keep moving forward, the answer will come to you sooner or later.


Best of luck if you’re participating in this challenge, and remember to have fun!

Let me know if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year, and what you plan on writing. Keep me posted on your progress. I’d love to hear how you all do. Are there any other writing challenges that you like to participate in?


  1. // Reply

    Thank you for this post, Mandie. I’ll be completing mine when I get home from the office. I intend to participate this year, but things might be off to a slow start at the moment. However, I’m free writing, so I can’t wait to see where the muse leads me. 🙂

    1. // Reply

      Oh, yes. I remember you talking about participating this year. Did you decide which story you’re going to write?

      1. // Reply

        Yes, I chose Dangerous Obsession. I’ll get some words down tonight, hopefully.

  2. // Reply

    I wonder if I ever can write anything that long… but I guess if I had a plotline (or a few) I could probably divide it into chunks possible to swallow, but probably now while having a full-time job. However I think I’m to used to write so very compact… (like 100 words or less) so expanding like this would be hard. When I wrote my short story I remember that I wrote it very short at first and then “fleshed it out” to 4000 words.

    1. // Reply

      I can understand this. I once only had novel-length story ideas until I took a class that required us to write short stories once a week for our assignments. It helped me compact an idea into a small space. Then I fell in love with flash fiction and poetry. So, basically the opposite of your problem, but I understand how difficult it is to change your scope. Luckily, there’s a month for challenging poets too. Plus, I think the whole point of these challenges is to get people into the practice of writing on a regular basis. So it doesn’t matter if you’re writing a novel or working on poems, as long as you’re writing. 🙂

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