How to Nail NaNoWriMo: Your Story Isn’t a Pie in the Sky

  Last November a friend of mine encouraged me to consider NaNoWriMo

The goal for National Novel Writing Month is to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Should you succeed you are considered a winner. 

  I did not win, but here’s what I learned from the experience: 

1 – Write the Story You Want to Read

With many of my writing projects, I have looked at what’s on bookshelves now and tried to write a similar story. 

By the time a project is finished, the trends will have changed. publishes a monthly newsletter with updates on industry changes. Trends change faster than I can write.  

 Write the story that you want to read, because — chances are — there are other people who like what you do, and you might as well enjoy what you’re writing.  

2 – Make Sure Your Goal is Appropriate 

The default goal of NaNoWriMo is 50,000 words. This is the length of a novel. If you’re writing just because you have a story burning out of you, then go for it. 

Let’s say that you want to pursue publishing your story. Imagine you’ve spent the whole month writing only to find out your novel is too short. 

 The salable length for a novel varies by genre. 
Is this reality that important? Won’t an agent overlook this for a great story? I wouldn’t count on it. Here’s just one example:

 Find the appropriate length for your genre here on The Writer’s Digest. 

3 – Do What Works for You

During Camp NaNoWriMo this month I’ve heard Write Or Die mentioned. This approach doesn’t work for everyone. 

This would throw my stress level through the roof. 

Referring to my outline and pursuing the next step is more helpful than undue stress.  


Writing your story, be it a novel or script or memoir, isn’t a pie in the sky. 

Be true to yourself by writing the story you want to read in the way that works for you, but be mindful of industry standards. Think of it like a haiku — you may write whatever you will, but it must fit the pattern. 

There’s still time to set a goal for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo. The next NaNoWriMo event begins in July. 

Have you participated in NaNoWriMo? What are your pointers?

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