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How to Win NaNoWriMo

It's my favorite holiday - National Novel Writing Month. AKA, NaNoWriMo.

You may be thinking, "that's not a holiday!"

Well I don't care because November is my favorite month now.

Just kidding, I know it's your favorite holiday too!

In this post I'm going to share with you a few winning strategies to reach 50,000 written words this month towards your book's draft. These strategies are what I follow to meet my own author goals.

Make sure to read through the post so that you also get your two free gifts - An Instagram Story progress tracker and a free chapter planner. Great tools for your NaNoWriMo success!

How to Win NaNoWriMo:

1. Have some understanding of your main character's motivations

You don't have to have the whole book planned and exact Save the Cat! Writes a Novel story beats yet. However, knowing the basics of your MC will make writing come to you faster and with more joy.

Things to ask yourself about your character include:

  • What is their greatest fear? Why do they fear it?

  • How do they approach conflict?

  • What makes them angry? Why do they have this trigger?

  • If they could have one perfect day, what would it be like?

If you'd like more guidance, you can use my Happy Story Bible (it has character exploration sheets). It's a really helpful tool for putting together your character and worlds, as well as storing that information on one handy place.

2. Counteract your typical distractions

We all have triggers that make it more difficult for us to write. Some common distractions for me are the dishes, messy desks, emails, and other cleaning and organizational type tasks.

To combat them, give yourself a rule that you are only allowed to do those activities during certain times. For example, I only let myself do the dishes before work. I only check my emails after I've completed a writing sprint, etc.

The key here, however, is to make your word law and abide by the small and big rules you set. It is a practice in self-discipline, something I'm working on as well, but it's a worthy skill to master.

If we are being honest with ourselves, our phones are likely one of these distractions as well. Commit to yourself to leave your phone in another room while you write. If it's helpful, turn on a 20 minute timer on your phone (or however long your writing break) so that you know you are typing towards a goal.

I get the best word counts when I type to a timer. Speaking of...

3. Utilize both solo and group word sprints

A writing sprint is as simple as it sounds, you set a timer and write during that allotted time. Once the timer is up, you take a small break and then set the timer and start again.

Sprints help you focus and give you a quick goal to achieve. I work the best when I do this by myself with music, but there are many sprinting groups and livestreams on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube you can participate in if you feel more productive in a group environment.

4. Claim your commitment

An important part about NaNoWriMo is community. But what many people forget is that community involves the people around you as well, not just the online writing community. Share with your family your goals and what it means to you. Make sure they understand this is your priority for the month and that you won't be as available as usual. They'll be excited about your commitment and understand if you don't answer your text messages right away.

Plus, if you can get your spouse to help you clean then HUGE bonus.

Claim your novel's future and decide for yourself that you will write "The End" this year.

Say to yourself every day that your success is inevitable. Don't keep your novel a secret.

5. Don't let your word count dictate your life

You may find this tip counterintuitive, but it isn't all about the word count. 50,000 words is the goal, YES. We want to get there.

But if writing interferes with your self-care, it's okay to take a break. That in and of itself is a win as creating a world and people from scratch is very big process and your mind needs to be respected for being able to do it.

Take a break when you need to and you will likely be able to write more after you feel better. Enjoy the process. Write like the wind. But don't get hurt because of it.

6. Edit the goal

Yes, it's technically about writing 50,000 words but no one is going to stop you from using those words however you chose. In fact, I'm using my 50K to complete the last 15K of my third draft of Ember Dragon Daughter, 25K on a new secret project, and then 10K on blog/newsletter/podcast content.

NaNo is a tool you can use. Not something that owns you. It isn't rigid. It is as flexible as you want it to be.

The whole point is to get into the habit of prioritizing creativity. Let's do that together!

I hope you enjoyed these tips. Some of them seem like things you already know, but let me ask you this - if you know it, are you living it?

And if you want some additional free resources, use my free chapter planner (sign up here to receive it in your inbox) and take screenshots of the time trackers I have shared below. They are perfect for your Instagram stories and for sharing your goals in an accountable way with your friends.

Free NaNoWriMo Instagram Story Templates


1. Save the photo and affirmation of your choosing

2. Update the tracker daily with your progress and feelings

3. Tag me in your story @rebeccaksampson so I can help cheer you on


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