NaNoWriMo Survival Guide : 5 recommendations to survive this writing November

I don’t talk a lot about writing on the blog, even though I wish I did so a little more often. Writing has always been a part of my life, even if it goes from being 90% of it to 5% of it all, it’s always there in the corner of my mind.

Today, I thought I’d change things up and, for once, talk about writing. It’s the perfect season to do so… because it’s November and with it comes NaNoWriMo. That time of the year where every writer in every corner of the world freaks out as they try to get this story out of their minds and write 50k words in an entire month.

Also known as that time every writer at every corner of the world tries not to tear their hair out in frustration. What can I say, writing is intense okay??

📝 My experience with NaNoWriMo

Fair warning: if I’ve been writing for every since I can remember holding a pen in my hands, my story with NaNoWriMo started only 5 years ago when, as a student, I suddenly decided to jump in and try this little adventure. Needless to say I failed royally, only writing 5k, but…. it was the start of an adventure indeed.

In 2015, I won, writing 52K in a month.

I tried to participate the next year, but, it being my first year as a now-full-time-working adult, well… failure it was.

Two years later in 2018, I got back to it unofficially, with my broken foot and only having this to feel worth something in that time, and…. well, I started rewriting my 2015 NaNoWriMo novel and won again. 58k words in a month.

Now it’s 2019 and I realize I haven’t done NaNoWriMo the conventional way since 4 years, so I genuinely wonder who the heck I am to try and give writing advice. Yet…. here I am. I feel like these 5 tips are the ones that really help me write, both during NaNo season and any other time of the year when I really want to focus on my writing, so…. I hope these will help you, too.

📌 5 Writing Recommendations to survive this NaNoWriMo

💻 Change your routine to fit writing into it all

If you want to write, you have to make time for it. This is an advice I have had a hard time following (as weird as it sounds), and this is an advice that goes for any time of the year you want to write.

Yet, NaNoWriMo incites you to write A LOT of words every single day (1 667, to be precise) and…. well, unless you’re a really really reaaaaally quick writer, you might need to take some more time into your day to fit all of these words.

I think it’s so important to find your routine. Some people will wake up earlier to get some writing done, while some others will sleep later. Some people will stop blogging altogether to focus on their writing, while some others will just cut off on some other hobby to fit writing into their schedule this November. Some people will stop making food and wait for their special someone, their family, the delivery guy to just sustain them all month long. To each their own.

What I do : I started paying more attention to my writing routine before NaNoWriMo, actually. I cut down on blog hopping (even if I feel guilty about it) to leave some time each evening to open my Word document and stare at my writing. Now, I feel weird when I don’t do it. That’s how you create a routine.

📋Have a plan… or let the plan come to you

There are three types of writers… well, I’m certain there are a lot more, but commonly, we fit writers into three categories:

  • Plotters : the ones with all the notebooks and timelines and plans and schedules obsessively writing 10 pages long outlines and knowing every up, down and across moment of their stories and characters. Might be exaggerating a little bit…. basically, these are the writers that like to plan everything ahead.
  • Pansters : the ones that wake up on November 1st and let the words come to them, basically. Inspiration and imagination and no preparation, just let the mind go wild.
  • Plansters : the ones that start things up with a loose structure, an idea of what they want to write and where things are going, but leave some space for their imagination and spotaneity to take over and… well for their characters to make a mess of things. Obviously.

Whether you’ve been writing for long or are just starting out, you will or have figured out which category you belong in, for the most part. In order to survive NaNoWriMo, all you have to do, really, is listen to your mind and the kind of writer that is in you.

If you’re a plotter, might be best to have a plan ahead, not to freak out too much. The best advice here is to get ready for NaNoWriMo, knowing the kind of writer that you are.

What I do : I’m a planster, usually. I like to have a loose structure, knowing what happens, the beginning, the middle and the end clear in my mind, as well as the main characters, their wants and needs. If I don’t know where I’m going at all, I’m just not going to do it at all.

📈Try not to obsess about the numbers… as long as you write

Yes. NaNoWriMo always screams about 50k words in a month, an entire novel in a month. If you reach that goal, whether it’s the 50k or the entire novel finished, it’s INCREDIBLE, of course.

Yet, if you ask me, NaNoWriMo is a really awesome event just to get you to write. So yes. If it boosts you to reach the 1 667 words every single day, try and reach for that. If you can’t do it one day, don’t beat yourself up, either. You might be able to catch up another day and write 3 000 words. You might not be able to catch up at all and, you know what?

That’s OKAY too. As long as you write, you’re doing amazing, so always, always focus on that goal, numbers aside.

What I do : well…. I try not to obsess about numbers even if sometimes it’s hard. I like to look at the consistency of my writing, rather than the number count. I might write 500 words sometimes and 2k another time and it’s okay. If I manage to show up every day to write, I’m trying to be proud already. Consistency is key.

💛 Keep yourself accountable…. or find others to help you do so.

Writing is hard. Showing up everyday to do the work is hard, especially during NaNoWriMo… or well, any time of the year, really. I often find it hard to keep myself accountable, to keep this consistency I dream of, to tell myself to show up and just write this damn thing.

Because for now, all it is is a bunch of documents on my computer that no one, really, is waiting for, a messy story that no editor or agent wants to see.

I’m really being a downer here, wow.

I have noticed that having a support system as a writer matters a whole damn lot. Writing might seem lonely, but really, it’s not when you find your people and your community. It’s even easier during NaNoWriMo! Every writer out there will be rooting for you and supporting you. You just have to put yourself out there.

  • Find writing buddies participating in NaNoWriMo as well and cheer for each other.
  • Tweet about your writing and your progress #amwriting #nanowrimo … and find others to support!
  • Talk a little bit about your writing, even if it’s hard sometimes to open up. You’ll find people to support you, scream at you to go the hell and write and threatening to cross oceans to force you to get to this damn story (in a very friendly way, obviously).

I find that the easiest way to keep yourself accountable, is to find a support system, people that surround you that root for your story. Even if they haven’t even read it.

🎨 Be creative and keep yourself inspired

NaNoWriMo is A LOT. It’s a whole damn lot of writing in a whole damn little bit of time and, no matter how much you love your story idea, sometimes it’s hard to stay inspired. Motivated. To want to let the words out when you’re exhausted.

Creativity is the answer, really. Being creative about your story, in other ways than words writing, can be the key to keeping you inspired. How can you be creative, then?

  • Create aesthetics and moodboards,
  • Create playlists,

You can create these for your entire story, for your characters, for specific scenes that you’re stuck on….

A small note : if you decide to share these aesthetics online, please remember to take pictures from free stock images websites such as unsplash, canva…

⌨️ What I’m doing this NaNoWriMo 2019

This year, I’m once again not going to participate in NaNoWriMo in the conventional way, meaning that I’m not going to write a brand new story.

Instead, I’m heading into draft 4 of my 2015 NaNoWriMo story. I’m going to be editing and I have no idea what I’m doing and will probably ruin the story of my heart into a tiny million pieces. (Can you tell how anxious I am?)

This should be a lot of fun.

These above are some of my story’s aesthetic. I’m marie.dhb on NaNo, if you want to add me!

Other writing resources and blog posts you might enjoy:

Happy writing to all of you writers and NaNoWriMo participants!

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Why, or why not?

Do you have some advice to keep yourself motivated to write every day? Do you have any other tips and tricks for writers this month? Let us know in comments!





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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. 📚 |🌍 | 💞 Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

46 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Survival Guide : 5 recommendations to survive this writing November

  1. Good luck NaNoWriMo. I really hope that I can convince myself to try it next year. I just need to get writing again first 😅 and planning. There’s some great advice here though and once again good luck (:

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good luck with your story! I have the very beginning of my book started, so I think I might take part in NaNo – even if I don’t officially sign up – just to see if I can get back into the groove of working on it. I know I need to make more time for it, so I’m hoping November will be a good month for that. It would be great to have 50k words at the end, but it’s okay if not.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lauren, you’re so sweet! ❤
      I hope you will – I really feel like NaNo, all of that atmosphere and everyone being so motivated to write, somehow drives me forward, too. I hope it will motivate you, too 🙂
      Happy writing!! ❤️


  3. As NaNoWriMo approaches, I am seriously contemplating doing it!! If I do take the plunge, I will 100% be a Pantser this year. I’ve never had a very clear idea of stories I want to write, unfortunately, more like vague ideas and beginnings that I love. This has set me back from writing stories so much, so my thinking is: why not just go for it. Maybe, years down the line, I’ll be a much more experienced writer of fiction, and I’ll be able to be a Plantser or a Plotter. I think I’m just gonna go with one of my ideas and see what happens! I definitely will make time for writing in my daily routine, which although, I make time to write creatively at least twice a week (whether it’s for the blog or personal pieces), I know I’ll benefit from writing daily. Staying inspired will probably be tough, so I might finally have my own crazy wall, and I’ll try to head out to coffee shops or sitting outside in order to maximise being in a different atmosphere! That has helped me be creative sooo much in the past. I love these tips!! I don’t know what kind of playlist I would make to keep writing, but that’s such a great idea xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh I think that’s great! You already have a start of ideas and most of it al, you have the motivation and the little spark that you love already. You should give it a try for sure and see how it goes! It takes time to figure out what kind of writer you are and, to be honest, you always figure it out as you go, too 🙂
      Wishing you all the best of luck with your writing!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. MARIE!! ❤ 🙂 I loved reading about your process and all your recommendations for surviving Nanowrimo. Did you feel like you had a story you wanted to tell before you participated? I think it's so interesting to hear about everyone's perspective and experience towards writing, especially since I'm at a stage where I don't have a story idea in place. I know that eventually, I'd want to write a YA contemporary centered around baking or school or Asian American identity (is this TATBILB??) but I don't think I'm at a place where I have something concrete to write.

    I'm wishing you all the luck in Draft 4 of your piece!! I think it's amazing that you're already on Draft 4?! Best of luck, and I know you're going to do amazing 🎉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh thank you, Tiffany, you’re so, so sweet, I’m so happy you enjoyed this post ❤ ❤
      I did have a general idea of what I wanted to write before I started out NaNo for the first time, yes 🙂 and I think that it's already quite awesome that you know this!! Ideas always take time to form – I sometimes know I want to write about a specific theme, but it takes me months and sometimes even years to really nail down what feels like "it" 🙂
      Thank you so much! It's not that amazing, I feel incredibly slow as I've been working on this for over 4 years hahaha, but thank you, this means so much ❤ ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sending good vibes your way Marie for NaNo!! ❤ I'm participating too, and so far I've never reached that 50K goal so this year I'm aiming for 25K lol. Step by step!! Your story aesthetic is gorgeous btw 😀 Here's to a great November!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh well it will just come to you naturally 🙂 I used to write in French, but then…. I don’t know, I switched to English and somehow I felt like, it fit better 🙂


  6. Eeeee, good luck, darling!! You know I’ll be rooting for you hardcore and always a message away if you ever need motivation, a ranting session, encouragement, a sounding board or just want to do a writing sprint together!

    WE GOT THIS. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Fellow Wrimo here! This will be my 9th year participating. I’m excited because this year I’m actually attempting to plot some things for the first time (I’m a total pantser). I can’t stress enough how important the advice you give here is. I finally found reliable writing buddies this year with a camp NaNo session and it has helped my writing so much and made me that much more motivated to focus on my writing. Best of luck with your writing/editing!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo, and I currently don’t have a WiP, but wow was this post helpful! Thanks so much for sharing your tips! I know that they’ll work so well once I’m actually writing something ❤
    And I wish you all the luck with your writing! Your moodboards and aesthetics always look so so good 😍

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Best of luck with NaNoWriMo Marie and I hope you enjoy your experience with it!! I have never fully participated but I would love to one year, I always say I’ll do it next year haha but hopefully one day.
    I loved hearing about your past experiences with it and you definitely had some great successes with it!! But I understand it being hard to juggle at times as the one time I semi-participated it was hard to do!!
    Yes i think that is so important about making time to write because sometimes you can just settle into thinking that ‘it will happen when it happens’ but really you have to get up and make it happen!!
    I definitely agree about trying not to focus on the numbers but actually on the act of writing!! Also holding yourself accountable can be really hard but it so important when you have a goal you want to reach!! I loved all your advice so much and I think it is so important!!
    Best of luck again and I’m sure you will do great!! The aesthetics look amazing btw!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  10. These are absolutely amazing, and so, so true! This is my first year actually being excited about participating in NaNo. I’ve usually done it kind of begrudgingly and while complaining a lot, so I’m eager to see what it’s like being prepared and ready for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. When I was twelve until I turned fourteen/fifteen, I was really into writing, and I’d love doing so for hours and hours. And I was always getting new ideas for stories, even though I never actually worked on them! Eventually, tho, I found new hobbies and I lost my spark for writing. Now, even if I really wanted, I couldn’t get back to it. My mind is completely blank!! But I love reading the stories, so it makes up for it 😛
    I loved your post and I think everything’s great advice!! Have a good NaNoWriMo and good luck editing!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you so much for featuring my post!! 🥰 I wish you all the best luck with NaNoWriMo, I hope you manage to achieve your goals 💕 I definitely think finding your routine is important but I think writing when you usually don’t can also help to change things up sometimes. I’m not a morning person but getting a bit of progress done in the morning helped me last NaNo 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so welcome, Caro, thank you for writing it! ❤ ❤
      I'm so happy to hear that and you're right, changing things up every now and then can really help you find your groove again, too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Marie, I always love your aesthetics so much, they are just so freaking beautiful!!! As for the NaNo stuff, the thing is, I know all of those … I think I even wrote posts like that myself, yet I have an incredibly hard time following any (of my own) advice.
    I still wish us both the best of luck. You with editing, me with writing! Shall we be able to share stuff with each other soon-ish 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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