How I Succeeded At NaNoWriMo

Ah, November. That magical time of year when writers everywhere get behind their keyboards, stock up on caffeine, and bring to life their next great novel. National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, can be an exciting time or a stressful one, depending on how you approach it. The last couple of years I didn’t make that magical number of 50,000 words. I fell well short of it.

So this year, I decided to do things differently. The point is really to put words to paper (or screen) as fast and as many as you can. So in October I did some preliminary work. I had the idea. I then wrote a basic outline, noting key events and when things should happen to the main cast. I had a rough outline of the main cast as well. So when it came time to start writing story on November 1st, I already had the framework done.

This made it a lot easier to get started. The words flowed freely, with no snags for the first few days. A few days in, I got to a scene that gave me problems, I was stuck there. To keep the words flowing, I moved on to another scene that I felt good about and kept going. Later on in the month I was able to go back to the troubling scene and fix it. Again, the words are important, not the quality. There is plenty of time to edit and revise later.

New chapter

I never thought about whether or not my story would be restrained to the 50,000 words, nor did I worry about names so much. If needed, I used a placeholder name for a character or place and jotted it down in the notes section of Scrivener. This way, later when I revise, I can do a find and replace to fix it. Again, edit in December, just get the words out. As someone who was used to writing by the seat of his pants, this was a new experience, but one that paid off.

Now my story isn’t finished. I did hit the 50,000 word goal, but this story is going to take a bit more words to tell. So I set myself another goal for December, and one through the end of January. November worked so well that I want to use the same process to finish the book in December and then for another book in January. My fiction word output has never been so high.

Remember, the key to getting the work done is some important planning, then write, write, write. You can always edit and revise later. Take a week and plan out the loose outline, some character info, and if needed a deeper outline. Then, get the story out, that’s what it wants. Once the story is down and out of your head, the work of revising to perfection can begin.

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? What was your success story? Let me know down in the comments below.


All opinions are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Deck Ape...or anyone else. Arrr!

R.A. Miller

R. A. Miller, the pen name of Robert Miller, spends his days working for the Suncoast Media Group and his nights writing for Deck Ape, as well as his own fiction. A graduate of Full Sail University with a BFA in Creative Writing for Entertainment, Robert uses his knowledge and his skills to create spectacular, page turning fiction.

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