Last Minute NaNoWriMo- 3 Ways to write a Novel this Month (even if you haven’t planned ahead)

NaNoWriMo is in full swing in zero dark 12 (hours). How will you conquer dragons or chronicle a coming of age story for the history books?

NaNoWriMo is something I look forward to every year. It is intensely challenging and equally thrilling. NaNoWriMo is short hand for National Novel Writing Month. This program asks its participants to dig deep and reach the goal of writing a 50,000 word essay in one month (yes, you heard me right).

Who hasn’t dreamed of writing a novel?

I know that I have. When I stumbled upon NaNoWriMo I fell in love with the idea. In cities around the world, chapters gather for late-night write ins–driven by coffee fumes and the desire for realizing a dream. What a heavenly image.

Most writers plan months in advance, rigorously mapping plots and character details.

Me…not so much.

I just get so darn busy you guys! But I am a procrastinator with a dream!

So for my other aspiring novel writers that are ready to hit it hard tomorrow…

Three Ways to Wing it for NaNoWriMo

First: Find a time to write every day.

This part is non-negotiable. There needs to be daily writing. It is essential for the process and momentum of being totally esoteric for a month.

Look, I know, there are a million other things that need to get done on the daily. But this is so much more important. For just one month of the whole year, make that time your own. Your spirit will thank you.

For me, this means waking up early to write for an hour each morning. If I’m dead tired, I write half an hour in the morning and half an hour at night. For me, the hour was enough to meet the goals I had set for myself.

Write-ins and events aside, the time you take for youself is the absolute most important thing.

Be consistent, find the fire inside.


Second: Buy a note pad

Maybe this is your preferred writing style anyhow. For many of us, much of our day is spent in transit or on a computer.
I notice that these are the times great ideas spring into my head!

Be sure you are ready to take advantage of all golden brain nuggets. By religiously clinging to a notepad, you can utilize more of your day and not forget the things that have inspired you throughout your day.

Grumpy guy on bus– write it down. Creepy tree– write it down. Capturing these images in some simple adjectives will help you write with intense accuracy that can make for interesting and vivid writing.


Third: Make some sort of a story map

For me it looked a lot like this:image

This was my map for last years story. It’s ugly, I know. I’m a year wiser now.

If I could go back I would include these things and a few more that I left out:

  • Character names and short descriptions 
    • Traits are helpful, but so are physical attributes. This way they are woven into the story rather than having to be explicitly stated in a way that doesn’t feel inspiring. This comes down to saying, “the water shined with the same glassy blue in the girl’s eye,” versus, “she had blue eyes.”
  • Major plot points
  • Some details to describe your conclusion
    • if you aren’t sure exactly where you’re headed, it is so very helpful to put down something that keeps you on target. For example, last year I didn’t know how I wanted the story to end, but I had this image in my head of a big looming vortex of black over a desolate desert landscape. If I could go back, I would write these down and make sure my story was slowly taking me to that place.
  • Major towns or location details. 
    • One morning I spent about an hour deciding where my story should take place. I lost out on so much important writing time! Even if this place is imaginary, give yourself some words that center you in the location. If it is a real place, print some pictures out or describe this area so that your story doesn’t feel disingenuous and you don’t waste precious time researching instead of writing


Let me hear your stories, tips, and tricks for being the writer you always knew you were in the comments below!

Image courtesy of

Find out more about National Novel Writing Month at


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s