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Weird NaNoWriMo Word Count Tricks that WORK (Believe Me, I've Tried Them)

Updated: May 20, 2023

If you have known me for any small amount of time, you know that I write. It's just who I am. So naturally, writing 50,000 words in one month for NaNoWriMo (AKA National Novel Writing Month) seems like a heck of a lot of fun and I'm all in. I've been participating on and off since 2014. I will not pretend that I have won all of the years I have participated, but the great thing about NaNoWriMo is the worldwide encouragement and community behind writing books. It's a great event to help you get into the habit of writing daily.

In these eight years, I've come up with some funny word count tricks to help get more writing time in during the day. You are going to LAUGH, but also love, these hacks.

How to Write More Words Daily - How to Add to Your Word Count and Develop Additional Plot/Character Moments

  1. The "Bathroom Break" - During NaNoWriMo, every time you have to go to the bathroom, tell yourself you can't get your ass off the toilet until you have written three sentences. Now come on, don't pretend you don't use your phone in the bathroom. With how often we go to the bathroom during the work day, this is a quick way to get more writing in.

  2. Add in a "Toddler Moment" - Everyone has tantrums every once in a while, including your characters. Sprinkle in at least one of these unreasonable tantrums to show your character's pet peeves, fears, or a moment of unprocessed trauma that they have to work through.

  3. The "Commercial Break" Workout - Similar to tip 1, don't waste your time! Everyone needs a TV break every now and again, but don't let it make you into a writing sloth. During commercial breaks, do word sprints. And if you are Netflix binging? Pause half way through an episode, write for ten minutes, watch the other half, write for another ten minutes, then start the cycle again.

  4. Bribe Yourself - Met that word count goal during your last sprint? Coffee break time. Did you double the amount of words you did yesterday? Target run! You get the idea. The key though, is if you don't meet your goal - no coffee or Target for you. Keep yourself accountable and build trust in your abilities and self-control.

  5. Art Mimics Life - As you move through the month, keep a notebook or section in your phone to write down the mundane things we need to do all the time, as well as life's surprises (hello, flat tire). Then, challenge yourself to incorporate these real-life scenarios into your novel to aid the plot. Maybe the protagonist meets their true love by helping them with their car trouble? Having these background pieces add realism to your story and fluff your word count.

TIP: If you are writing a fantasy novel, address how the regular day-to-day activities in #5 are adapted in your settings. Are there taxes in your world? Are they used justly or fuel for corruption? Who manipulates the funds? Is the Villian benefiting from this system or entirely separate from the government?

Q: What should I do if I get writer's block during NaNoWriMo?

A: Writer's block is often a symptom of something else. Sure, sometimes you need to step back and do some novel planning to figure out why a certain part of the book isn't working for you. But often, it's an environment, health, or mindset need.

  • Environment: Leave your home to write. I often have trouble when I write for too many days in a row at home because everywhere I look I see something I need to do (like laundry) and that distracts from creativity. Leave your home and suddenly, words are flowing.

  • Health: Are you having enough water? Are you taking walks outside to move around your energy? Are you sleeping enough? You can't be productive if you are sacrificing your body.

  • Mindset: Overwhelm and pressure can get in the way of creative work. When I'm feeling sad or like I'm not measuring up, my words don't come. Taking a moment to address those feelings, and understand they are just feelings and not 100% irrefutable truth is freedom. Focusing on how every view has an alternate perspective is a great way to start with sorting out mindset worries - check out my book Repeat After Me for more.

And that, lovely humans, are a few tips that help me reach my writing goals during NaNoWriMo. What NaNoWriMo tips do you have? Is this your first novel or are you a dozen deep?


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