It was my sophomore year at York College of Pennsylvania when I first heard about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I was new to the professional writing major and creative writing minor at the time and it seemed as though all of my peers were participating in the national writing holiday.

Every October the thought completely slips my mind until today, the last day of the month. The horror of Halloween has nothing on the flood of anxiety that I encounter knowing that I haven’t prepared for NaNoWriMo. And with that, I excuse myself from participating every year.

While the same instance has happened yet again this year I am not giving up; instead, I am gearing up for NaNoWriMo, which begins tomorrow, and no, I don’t have anything remotely prepared at this point. provides suggestions on how to achieve the goal of 50,000 words in a one month time frame, of which I haven’t even begun some of the basics like character sketches, a plot outline, or even daily word count goals.

With that being said, I’d like to open it up to those bloggers who have experience with NaNoWriMo and comment below with your suggestions, tips from a professional, or better yet – words of encouragement!

Thank you and happy writing!

©Megan Matos, November 2016
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8 Comments Add yours

  1. Just do it. Jump in, write. Prep is overrated, mostly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. matosm32 says:

      Haha yes, prep is overrated! Today is day 1 and I’m doing it!! NaNoWriMo here I come!


  2. Lauren says:

    Don’t worry about the prep! Yes, preparation can make the idea of NaNoWriMo seem easier, but sometimes it just gets you bogged down in the details. The first year I did NaNoWriMo I was at York College in the Novel Writing class. We spent the months leading up to NaNoWriMo preparing, and that was great: I felt ready to start my story. Fast forward to November 2nd, and I’ve completely switched who the main characters of my story are going to be and what the conflict of the story is.

    When you are writing 1,667 words a day you are not going to produce a quality product (that’s what second, third, fourth drafts are for!). So why does preparation matter so much? I think the important question is: do you have an idea? Without an idea you’ll probably sit down to write then start crying in frustration after an hour of coming up with nothing. But, if you have an idea, you can do it, I’m sure of it. There is a reason the NaNoWriMo website has two categories of writers: Planners and Pantsters. So you’ll be a Pantster this year; that’s NaNoWriMo at its finest!

    It’s going to be hard. With or without planning, if writing a novel in 30 days was easy then everyone would be doing it. But don’t give up before you’ve even started. Honestly, what’s the harm in trying? If you don’t reach 50,000 words you haven’t lost anything, you’ve gained everything that you’ve written. And you could surprise yourself by reaching, and even surpassing that goal!

    I’ve participated (and won) twice, and this year is my third go. Some things I do when I’m falling behind in my word count: (1) wake up early a couple of mornings to write while the world is still asleep and there are no distraction, (2) do 5-minute word sprints at the beginning of each hour on a weekend, (3) set an incentive for smaller word amounts (500 words = 1 cookie). When I get stuck on a specific part of the story I sometimes switch who’s point of view I’m writing from, or I’ll jump ahead to a scene I’m more excited to write about.

    NaNoWriMo is time-consuming, frustrating, crazy, and each time I’ve participated I’ve been happy I did so. Feel free to connect with me through the NaNoWriMo page, my user name is “readingred”. Good luck!


    1. matosm32 says:

      Thank you for the great suggestions! I particularly love your 500 words = 1 cookie tip!Your comment was very uplifting, which I totally appreciate as the feeling of imminent doom is washing over me! I do have an idea in mind, a few actually but I think it’s something I can run with.

      I have been trying to create a NaNoWriMo username and the page hasn’t been loading properly. I will try and connect once a username is created!

      What did you use to help you stay on track with your word count? Did you write in just a standard Word or Pages document, or did you use something else?


      1. Lauren says:

        In the past I used a word document, and if I was on another computer I would write in an email to myself then add what I had written whenever I got back to my computer. This year though I decided to use a Google document so I could access it both at home and at work. Evernote is also a great tool, which I will use when I only have my phone on me.


  3. Jacob says:


    I participated in NaNoWriMo in 2014, the one and only time I did it, for a novel writing class.

    Seeing as you haven’t really prepared anything for it, I would personally skip it this year and think ahead towards next year, since there’s a lot of foundation work that needs to happen first. I like to give it a good month worth of brainstorming before I commit to writing anything.

    If you’re really wanting to participate this year though, you’ll want to spend a fair bit of time thinking about what you want to write about (obviously) and you’ll need to consider what exactly you want to write about. I personally always have at least 2-3 story ideas pent up in my head so that if I, say, want to participate in NaNoWriMo last minute (which has happened to me before, but I didn’t finish the month out), I have something at least properly brainstormed. So if you’re that type of person, I’d suggest just using one of those stories. If you have to come up with one from scratch, dedicate an entire day to doing so if you can. This might set you behind a bit, but later on I’ll tell you how to beat being behind on words.

    I’d also recommend pruning a story down to its basics. Two to three good characters, an easily noticeable rise in conflict, and a fairly generic resolution. This way you’re not confusing yourself with 8+ characters and having to juggle all of them at once, as well as how each of their stories interlaced with one another. In 2014 I started on a horror story, but scrapped it 10 days in and began on another story (and finished early!). To make it easier on myself, I only included two main characters, with one being introduced later on. This gave me time to develop the main character as I was writing to save time and get me writing the story I’d brainstormed earlier.

    I also borrowed ideas from popular entertainment pieces I liked and used them to inspire what I could use for my story. Names, personalities, places, etc. All my own but inspired by culture, entertainment, history, etc.

    Like I mentioned earlier, if you find yourself falling behind, whenever you write something for NaNoWriMo, always write more words than the recommended daily amount. If I recall correctly, its something like ~1700 words a day. So I’d recommend giving it a good 1800-2100 words per day. Or, if on a weekend, if you’re feeling lucky, get up into the 3000-5000 word range. You’ll wind up saving a few extra days and it will give you a good buffer to take a break if you need it. I remember taking a few days off after getting so far ahead and burnt out (33k words at like day 15 or something silly) and I only wrote maybe 500 words between those days. And I still finished early. So, if you’re capable of doing it, write a crap ton when you can and it will save you later on down the road.

    One final thing. It was a mistake I made, but make sure you don’t get caught up in grammar mistakes and the like. The point of NaNoWriMo is to complete a novel, not to have it ready to be published on December 1st. Yes, you should have it in a state that you’re proud of, but it doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to be completed, and that’s all.

    Hope some of this helps. Good luck!


    1. Jacob says:

      “you’ll want to spend a fair bit of time thinking about what you want to write about (obviously) and you’ll need to consider what exactly you want to write about.”

      I apparently didn’t think about this either. Please ignore the double point.


    2. matosm32 says:

      Thank you for the comment and all the suggestions! This has always been something I’ve wanted to participate in but I never prepare properly. Maybe I’ll just do a mini NaNoWriMo and just try and write 25,000 words since I’m really not prepared. It will just help me next year when I can spend more time gathering my thoughts.
      Are you planning on participating this year?


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