Five Tips for Reaching Your NaNoWriMo Goal

by The Magic Violinist | 26 comments

NaNoWriMo is upon us again! I’m sure some of you are jumping out of your desk chair with excitement, but others are still nervous. It is intimidating, after all. Fifty-thousand words in one month? Insanity.

Luckily, it’s not as hard as it looks to reach your NaNoWriMo goal. And with these five tips, it’ll look even easier.

Five Tips for Reaching Your NaNoWriMo Goal

1.    Edit after you’ve reached your goal

I know plenty of writers who have a hard time waiting until their first draft is complete to start editing.

Whether you can’t move on until you have the perfect line or until you’ve fixed that plot hole, try to restrain yourself and wait. Your flow will be better because of it.

But don’t worry, you don’t have to wait until you’re completely done with your novel. If editing is something that helps keep your creative spark alive, leave yourself notes along the way.

You can highlight that one cliché word choice you need to fix, type a note in red, or use a keyword (mine’s “giraffe”). Once you’ve hit that 1,667-word mark, find your notes and edit to your heart’s desire.

For more on this, read our article, An Editor Says You Shouldn’t Edit During NaNoWriMo.

2.    Skip around

Who says you have to write linearly?

When I’m writing my novels, sometimes inspiration hits, and I have to write a certain scene right away. That’s perfectly okay and it still counts toward your word goal!

If you’re feeling stuck in the present time, skip to a future chapter and write that instead. It’s a great way to keep your motivation alive.

3.    Type nonsense

Here’s a little secret I learned after my first few years of NaNo-ing: you rarely keep the majority of what you write. Of those 50,000 words, maybe 20,000 I actually save in the final draft.

That’s not discouragement, though. Recognizing that fact can be incredibly freeing. It allows you to type nonsense and clichés and bad plot twists without guilt or fear.

All you really need is a stepping-stone for your next draft, so don’t be afraid to do anything you can to hit your goal.

Once you’ve done that, then you can start cleaning things up.

4.    Reward yourself

Some days writing 1,667 words is easier than others. And on those hard days, it can be so hard to get your fingers and your brain to cooperate.

To give yourself the extra motivation you need, offer yourself mini rewards throughout the day. For every five-hundred words you write, get a piece of chocolate or spend ten minutes on the internet.

Then once you’ve hit your goal for the day, watch an episode of something on Netflix or read a chapter of the book you’re in the middle of.

You’ll feel even better about the rewards knowing you worked hard to earn them.

5.    Don’t be so hard on yourself

Don’t stress about winning. If you’ve had fun while writing during NaNoWriMo, you’ve already won. This is a huge challenge you’re taking on, and just by committing to it, you’ve taken a big step.

The hardest part of any daunting task is starting. And now that you’ve done that, the rest will be cake. What have you got to lose?

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We're gearing up for NaNoWriMo just like you, and right now there's a free three-part series on how to write a book (in a month).

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Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? What’s your novel about? Leave a comment!


Other than the obvious (writing 50,000 words by November 30th), what are your goals for yourself this NaNoWriMo?

Maybe you’re hoping to work on your dialogue or be better about plot holes. Whatever it is, make a list of three or more goals.

Then, if you’d like, share your list in the comments. Be sure to give your fellow writers a little love and encouragement. Have fun!

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The Magic Violinist is a young author who writes mostly fantasy stories. She loves to play with her dog and spend time with her family. Oh, and she's homeschooled. You can visit her blog at You can also follow The Magic Violinist on Twitter (@Magic_Violinist).


  1. Shreeya Patel

    Wow, this was really helpful! Thanks! I’ve been half excited, half anxious about November, and this gave me motivation 😉

    • B. Gladstone

      I feel the same way Shreeya! Good luck!!

  2. Mikhela K

    My Goals for NaNoWriMo:

    1: I want to find writing friends. As a reclusive and socially anxious person, I have a hard time making friends with the same hobbies as me. I’m hoping to fully indoctrinate myself into the writing community.

    2: Daily writing. In addition to being a wannabe writer, I’m also a college student, and I’ve used that as an excuse not to practice my craft for too long. Having an online community with the power (they probably won’t actually DO it, but they have the power) to keep tabs on me will most likely be enough incentive for me to write more consistently.

    3: Long plots. I have a knack for short stories. I’m good with short, colorful plots that get right to the point, but also last for a well-rounded plotline in less than 5,000 words. What I’m REALLY bad at is following a consistent plot for more than 10,000 words. I veer, and I change and I come up with something else. I’m hoping NaNoWriMo will help me with working on writing long plots.

  3. Liz

    My first and only successful NaNoWriMo was about 3 yrs ago. I finished my book, but it was only 30,000 words. I was a winner because I’d started the book 10 years earlier before my husband died. It meant a lot to get it finished. GOAL FOR 2015: Book 2 in that series. I’ll have a better outline finished before Nov 1, and I’m excited about spreading my wings from a History Column to murder mysteries.

    • bernadette

      good luck, Liz ;~)

  4. Lady Bird

    Great tips, thanks! I especially love the one about typing nonsense) While writing I usually use this tool, which helps me greatly!

    • bernadette

      what does this program do? thx.

  5. Glynis

    I’m still on the fence about trying NaNoWriMo again this year. I’ve “failed” twice in the past, but this summer I wrote my first full manuscript, so knowing that I CAN do it, at least outside of that one-month time constraint, gives me a bit more confidence. And thanks for the great tips!

  6. Melissa C. Lyons

    I’m feeling nervous still as NaNoWriMo is quite a challenge! It’s also my first time here, book, and sci-fi attempt. Not to mention, I haven’t written anything but a few hundred academic essays over the last five years. My first goal will be to escape the academic tone! The second goal is developing a good plot strategy. Last, I have to learn to find and reach out to writing partners even though I am bit reclusive and shy.

    • Debra johnson

      Melissa Welcome to The Writing Practice, we are glad to have you here. I am here if ya want a writing partner as I am sure many others here are as well. Writing anything but term papers and assignment can be hard, I was there a few years ago as well. But this nano-ing as the author of this piece says it a chance to let your imagination go wild. definitely have fun during Nov and see where your journey
      (story) take you.

      I’m also shy so I know its hard reaching out to connect some times… Glad to have you a part of the Nano and write practice community.

  7. Debra johnson

    This was a great article. It reminded me of the shortcomings I have when I write. Not that they are that short, I have had these issues since I started writing. And they still pop up when I least expect them. Edit that word, chop that phrase, put us in this characters head as well as that one. So now onto my goals… Head hopping is one of my main down falls. I’m not talking pot holes I’m talking grand canyon holes. I tend to think it gives the reader more- which of course it doesn’t. So thats my goal, stay in one characters POV … Now which character that will be I dont know , but since I am writing experiences from 3 different characters focusing on one character at a time may make it easier until they come together in the support group.

    *Deep breath* Stop thinking ahead to much it just discourages ya.

    • B. Gladstone

      I have a feeling you are going to do great Debra. All the best!

    • Debra johnson

      Thanks B. Gladstone. I am looking forward to it.

    • bernadette

      I totally relate to your concerns; it is why I’m going to try and have an outline ready for each day; I plan not look back at Anything. Ha! now let’s seem me Do that… :~D

    • Debra johnson

      yea not looking back at the last days words are hard,,, so your outline for each day happens after you write that days words or a steps up from beginning to end.

  8. concordriverlady

    I am struggling with not editing my first draft. Every time I return to the world of my story I reread the previous chapter to get a running start and find that I spend two to three hours editing that chapter before adding new material. As you might guess, my brain is fried by the time I work on the new material. Arghhhhhh! 🙁

    • B. Gladstone

      If you are planning to enter the NaNoWriMo, sounds you need really need to set a clear editing goal, as suggested here, and stick to it diligently. That will be your key to success. Good luck!

  9. Donna Marie

    Hello all I understand that stress in the question and things like that I do too it’s really tough to make decision is so busy have other things that go on
    I just want to say that to put it out there that I’m very scared of doing the spelling to do it anyways and I don’t want to offend anybody

    Please know that I mean well by this I was all set to do this nano thing I really really really wanted to then last week 2 weeks ago I had another stroke I say this to encourage you because if you don’t have that kind of problem I want to know I understand they have you have other things please follow your intuition that’s all I can say and I just thought I’d share that’s because maybe he will come riding partners was often and out because I’m always looking for writing partners I mean this is encouragement I’m not even going to put my blog on here did show you my memoir that was going to try to finish I don’t know if I’m going to do it or not
    Maybe I could do it in small portions I was going to try to talk with Joe privately with my ideas they really want to move forward but it’s not the worst thing in the world if I don’t do the Nano but I do encourage all of you to the new know if you can do it this if you can do it physically financially all that other good stuff whatever that you have to do blessings to all and keep in touch thank you thank you for this article was beautiful that got me thinking lol

  10. B. Gladstone

    Goal numero uno: Starting and getting in the Nano race. Two: Sticking to it ’til the end. Three: Enjoy the process. Sounds real basic right? As if I had no need to “work” on actual writing techniques. I believe that comes in the process. With the continual reading, and daily writing practice I think I have enough background and don’t need to worry about anything else except just write. That is enough for me. More than enough. I feel mental preparation is key. If I manage that, to my advantage during the length of the project, I have won and the reward is priceless. Everything else that I am looking for out of writing will come in time. Of that I am certain.

    • bernadette

      ‘enjoy the process’. yes!

  11. bernadette

    My first NaNo; I will have an outline which I am noodling out now and thus, 1: will not edit anything. 2: will skip around writing scenes, adding to them at willy-nilly. 3:promise , oh promise to Me, most precious me: to write everyday, even resorting to stream of conscious, daydreaming in a character head if I must, taking a character on a walk in the setting not pertaining to any chapter… 1667 words per day: I’m @’ing that to be 5-6 pages or so? We all could be Such a Force in the Universe :~) all working at once, lol.

  12. The Zany Youth

    Hey, I’m I new writer, I’m going to try for NaNoWriMo, but in the meat time could anyone reading this check out some stories I’ve written and let me know what you think?

  13. EmFairley

    A lot of my outline is already in place, but I’m really looking forward to fleshing it out, especially the dialog and perhaps unexpected plot twists.

  14. Chris Villamor

    Write nonsense. Don’t Edit. Write Bad plot twists. Jump around. Heck i can do ALL that no problem. Great advice and will most certainly keep all that in mind. Thanks Alot

  15. Olivia Roach

    I am doing Nano! So far, I just passed 3k. I have done this for three years of my life and never lost, and this will be my fourth time. I thought I wouldn’t make the 50k this year because of a busy lifestyle this time running, but I am going to try and reach it anyway. I think these tips could become very handy.



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