10 Creativity Catalysts to Win NaNoWriMo

by Joe Bunting | 30 comments

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10 Creativity Catalysts to Win NaNoWriMoThis November, writers from all over the world will be joining together to accomplish a great enterprise, writing a novel in a month!

That's right, National Novel Writing Month is almost here, and smart writers know, now is the time to start preparing. (If you're a Write Practice reader, I know you must be a smart writer.)

With that in mind, I've put together a list of ten catalysts that will help you write your novel in a month. And don't worry, we have many more resources coming to get you ready for November, including a printable 2016 NaNoWriMo calendar, a book idea workshop, and more!

Get the 1-page guide! Download and print the 10 Creativity Catalysts to Win NaNoWriMo here »

Catalysts to Win NaNoWriMo

You might be able to win NaNoWriMo without these creativity catalysts, but it will be so much harder (especially without number one!).

Have more fun, finish faster, and write a better novel with these ten catalysts (they all begin with “C”).

  1. Chocolate. This is first for a reason. When you’re killing yourself trying to write your novel in a month, unlimited chocolate will quite possibly be the only thing that keeps you going.
  2. Commitment. Not just from you, but from your friends and family, too. Completing NaNoWriMo requires a huge amount of time every day. If your friends and family aren’t willing to support you, keep you focused, and hold you accountable, you will have a hard time.
  3. Community. “You are the average of the five people closest to you,” said Jim Rohn, and this is especially true during NaNoWriMo. Find writing friends who have high word counts! You’ll find your word count goes up through osmosis.
  4. Check-ins. It’s hard to finish a book in isolation, especially during NaNoWriMo. Give a close friend or mentor permission to check in with you and hold you accountable to finishing your word count every day.
  5. Creative Inspiration. Sometimes you run out of ideas. When that happens, things like writing prompts and creativity exercises can get you writing again.
  6. Consequences. Create a consequence if you don’t meet your daily word count, something that will really hurt, like giving up your favorite video game/TV show until you finish your book or writing a check to an organization you hate. This will keep you focused like nothing else!
  7. Calendar. Did you know that by the end of week one, you’ll need to have written 8,335 words to be on track to win NaNoWriMo. And 20,004 words by the end of week 2. Stay on track with a NaNoWriMo calendar (like this one).
  8. Critique. Is your book idea interesting? Is your writing working? Get feedback on your book idea and first chapters as early as possible so you can write the rest of your book with confidence.
  9. Caffeine. Coffee, tea, cola, or Red Bull. Do we really need to back this up?
  10. Cozy Corner. Alright, we’re stretching the C thing here, but the point is, find somewhere cozy, comfortable, and calm where you can be creative, like a cranny in a coffee shop or a couch in a cubicle.
Get the 1-page guide! Download and print the 10 Creativity Catalysts to Win NaNoWriMo here »

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Let us know in the comments section!


First, download and print the 1-page catalyst guide here.

Then, spend a few minutes thinking about an idea for your NaNoWriMo novel. Don't write, just think. What do you want to write about? What story sounds interesting to you right now? Take a walk, stare out the window, or just look off into space.

Finally, after you spend some time thinking about your idea, free write about your idea for fifteen minutes. When your time is up, post your idea in the comments section below. And if you post, be sure to give feedback on a few ideas from other writers.

Happy writing!

Free Book Planning Course! Sign up for our 3-part book planning course and make your book writing easy. It expires soon, though, so don’t wait. Sign up here before the deadline!

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.


  1. felicia_d

    I’m IN for NaNoWriMo 2016! Just published last year’s project yesterday! Hopefully, LIFE won’t interfere as much this time around.

    • LilianGardner

      Congrats! I hope you get through like and arrow piercing the bull’s eye.

    • felicia_d

      Thank you, Lilian!

    • Joe Bunting

      Wow! Exciting! Congratulations on publishing last year’s book!

    • felicia_d

      Thanks, Joe! It’s a good feeling.

      I’ve learned a LOT in the last year! LOL!

  2. LilianGardner

    I’m participating in NaNo this year.
    These days I’m editing last year’s novel, which is now approximately 85,000 words.
    This year I’m planning to write a story about my mother. It is a drammatic tale at the start, but the final chapters show how she managed to cancel hateful memories of her past and forgive the people who made her life a misery.
    It will be difficult to follow the actions of all family members as they grow up and leave home. I’ll have to concentrate on my protagonist and weave people and family members into her life, but briefly. It will be difficult to shorten or eliminate certain periods. I certainly want to try
    I have made a promise to write as much as I can, that is over 1,000 words.
    I am alone in this; but wait! There’s me and myself. We’ll cheer each other on.

    • felicia_d

      I can relate all too well! My published book ended up with a word count of 76K – because I split it in half! LOL! Book 2 will come out in December!

      Your 2016 project sounds interesting! I love psychological reads. Will watch for your updates!

    • LilianGardner

      Thanks, Felicia_d. What’s the title of your published book?

    • felicia_d

      It’s called “In The Best Interest of the Child” and I write as Felicia Denise. Thanks for asking!

    • Dawn

      Hearing how she managed to cancel hateful memories sounds very interesting to me, and I am curious how she will do this. Good luck with your book, and weaving others in and out sounds promising, esp. as it may trigger some events for her, and then we’ll see how she progresses thru it.

    • LilianGardner

      Thanks for your comments, Dawn.
      It won’t be easy, because I didn’t see or have contact with my mother for twelve years. I’ll construct the story from what she told me when we finally met again.
      Her story is full of surprises, especially the last years of her life.
      Heck! I hope I can write an interesting memoir.

    • Joe Bunting

      Exciting Lillian! It sounds like a great story, and I think your point about following your protagonist is essential. Also, you have us! Not alone at all! Excited for you!

  3. Jason Bougger

    Sticking with the “C” theme, I’d like to add Cheat Sheet. There’s no rule against preparing your novel outline in advance.

    • Joe Bunting

      Agreed! And good “C” word!

    • Sierra

      I agree! Good point!

  4. TerriblyTerrific

    Nope, nope, nope. Still not ready. Too intimidated…..

    • Joe Bunting

      Ha, I understand that! I honestly think you could do it, but it definitely is a huge commitment.

    • Sierra

      You can do it! It does seem very intimidating to start but once you finish the whole journey was definitely worth it 🙂

    • Bruce Carroll

      I’m with you, TT. I’m already working on a novel, so even if I do complete it in November, it will have been more than one month. (Now that I think of it, if people are starting now, won’t that be two months? Writing a novel is writing a novel, even if the work being done is thinking of preliminary ideas.)

  5. Dawn

    Idea for NNW novel: A thirty-something woman feels trapped in a job as a food writer at a NY magazine. Her Dad has just died, leaving their family bakery without anyone to run it. She becomes depressed, missing her Dad, wondering why she’s in this job, and if she should try to reinvent the bakery. Her boss, Wendy, puts her on leave, asks her to stay out of sight for a while so she can talk the board into keeping her on. Her sister invites her on a trip to Peru to visit a famous shaman with their shaman/teacher Ria. “Maybe we’ll become enlightened!” When they arrive in Peru, Wendy calls and says she needs Emily to interview a famous Peruvian chef and cookbook author. “This will help me to keep your job for you when you get back,” her boss says. The chef has gone into hiding and other big publications are sending reporters to find him. Emily meets the young shaman who’s working with Ria on their trip, and he helps her to locate the famous chef. But, Ria wants Emily to concentrate on her enlightenment, not on finding the chef. Ria fights to keep Emily focused on the reason for her trip – enlightenment — and Emily does her best to find the chef, write the story and get it to her boss on time. But does she really dream of becoming a baker instead of a writer?

    • Joe Bunting

      Hey Dawn. What a cool idea! I love the New York vs. Peruvian settings, almost Midsummer-Night’s-Dream-esque. I’m wondering if you have too many settings though: family bakery, Peru, NYC. Or is the bakery in NYC? If so, that could work. If it was in a small town somewhere outside of NYC (I pictured Pennsylvania for some reason) then I think it would be harder. Take or leave this, but what if she’s Peruvian and the family bakery was in Peru? Overall, this is a cool story and I think it’ll be a lot of fun to write. Are you going to go for it this November?

    • Dawn

      Hi Joe, Thanks so much for your thoughts…very helpful indeed! I had imagined the bakery in NYC, and I really like your idea of her being Peruvian and living there…anyway…I’ll move ahead with the story, and see where it leads. Thanks again for your insights!

  6. Sierra

    I’m a high school senior this year and my creative writing class is doing NaNo for the second time! Two years ago, my first novel was a little over 10,000 words and my goal for this year is 15,000. My rough idea for this new story is about a 19 year old girl who is one of the world’s most wanted thieves by night, but she lives a normal lifestyle during the day. One day she decides to steal a highly guarded emerald from a museum. What she doesn’t know though is that the emerald has a curse..

    That’s as far as I’ve figured out 🙂

    Thank you for this guide! I’m going to ask our teacher if we can put it up in our classroom. The chocolate catalyst is going to be my favorite one to use this November

    • Bruce Carroll

      I like your concept, weaving realism, adventure, and fantasy. Let me know when it’s available, I want to read it.

    • Sierra

      Thank you! I actually ended up going with a different idea, it’s my first mystery I’ve ever written. Thank you for your nice words!

  7. Jeanette

    The challenge is a little daunting, but I’m in. I like the 10 catalysts in this post, plus the one added by another commenter – cheat sheet. Having an outline in advance is a tool I’ll be using. Another “C” word to add to the list is “confidence.” With confidence comes a shift in mindset to say you have faith in your ability and you can do it.

  8. EmFairley

    I’m in. Last year’s project is now available for pre-order. So I’ll be writing either book 2 or 3 in the series. It sounds strange, but as of now I’ve got a clearer idea of book 3 than 2. Writing out of sync is one of my work arounds for writer’s block, so unless I can clear the fog for book 2 and get it outlined, I’ll run with 3 for NaNo, then go back to 2 when I’m done with the first draft of that one

  9. Candace

    Can’t ever go wrong with #1 and #9. Love this list! I haven’t fully committed to NaNoWriMo this year yet, but if I do… I’d love to write a comedic version of corporate Mulan.

  10. Sandra

    Thank you Joe!!

  11. Alyssa Elwood

    I really don’t think I am ready for this yet! I have started my novel already, but keep putting it off for LIFE. Just got married this last weekend, so my schedule just opened up. I am feeling a little off-center without a wedding to plan, so maybe some real work will get done on my book!



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