This is your year to win NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). From November 1st through November 30th, hundreds of thousands of both seasoned and first-time writers will try to get down 50,000 words of a story. This doesn’t mean you’re writing a fully fleshed out, ready-to-publish novel. One thing it means is you have a deadline and a word count to hit—every single day.
Many people on the internet proclaim you can create a new habit in 21 days. Psychology Today, a source I trust much more than a random blogger quoting someone else, says if you want an easy habit like drinking a glass of water every morning, 21 days is about right. But if you’re working towards something harder, it’s likely 66 days or longer.
It’s more important to stick with a habit at the beginning and to not beat yourself up if you miss a day here or there. The most important thing about winning NaNoWriMo is finding your perfect writing habit.
What is a writing habit?
Each unique writer sets the stage for the perfect writing session. Some like a cup of tea and a scented candle when they sit down to write. Others need a certain location like a secluded space in the house or a vibrant coffee shop. And still others have a particular time of day that works best for them. Or, like one crazy author we won’t name, some only write standing up.
Your best writing habit is whatever energizes you and gets you ready for the marathon of writing a novel. Which is what NaNoWriMo helps you learn to do.
Creating your new writing habit
Writing every day is the habit you want to walk away from NaNoWriMo with. It’s not so much about writing the next great novel. It's more about writing every day and working toward a deadline.
If you read about famous authors’ writing routines, most of them write every single day, even on holidays. Even when they’re not feeling it. They put butt in chair and get down to work. And most of them are working toward a deadline, thanks to a publisher or editor. For the rest of us, we need to create our own deadlines.
How to use NaNoWriMo
NaNoWriMo offers you an internet-sanctioned 30-day period when you can put your writing first. Tell your family and friends about it and make sure everyone understands why you’re incommunicado in November. Because to win NaNoWriMo this year, you need to prioritize your writing with the help of others.
Especially if you have a day job and children, your spare time is tight. Working in some writing time means you must sacrifice something. Only you can decide what stays and what goes. But you need to lean heavily on those around you to make it happen.
If you have a partner, negotiate extra help around the house during November. For example, offer your mate a month’s worth of your extra help during the year when they want to focus on something important.
If you have children, depending on how old they are, have them join you for NaNoWriMo. Even kindergarteners can work on a picture book while you write your novel. Make it something your entire family can try, if possible.
Another idea is to set up a reward system for your family. If they can commit to giving you 30 days in November, you’ll commit to certain rewards for them later. Promise your kids a trip to the zoo if they let you work on your novel uninterrupted. Or offer a weekend getaway for the entire family if they help you win NaNoWriMo. Create vision boards with rewards your family wants to keep them motivated to help you during November.
Use ProWritingAid to help you win
Besides relying on family and friends, rely on ProWritingAid to help you win NaNoWriMo. We have tons of resources you can lean on, including the following:
- The editing tool offers tons of great advice on your writing.
- The ProWritingAid Blog offers many NaNoWriMo-specific articles.
- And don’t forget, ProWritingAid host dozens of free writing training sessions, including this exclusive Q&A with the NaNoWriMo Executive Director.
This year is your year. Put your writing first in November and win NaNoWriMo. Better yet, get into the habit of writing every single day. And take ProWritingAid along for the ride. You’ll be glad you did.
November is fast approaching, and with it comes National Novel Writing Month, the writing challenge that asks you to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.
We've asked the ultimate NaNo expert—NaNoWriMo Executive Director, Grant Faulkner—to share his advice. Join us for a Q&A and get all your questions answered.