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4 Things to Know for NaNoWriMo (+ bonus tips!)

encouragement hedgie house experience imposter syndrome help prickle time writing process writing tips Oct 30, 2023

National Novel Writing Month, lovingly referred to as NaNoWriMo, is just around the corner!

Before you dive in, I have some thoughts on the subject…

I took part in this “structured stress” challenge back in November 2016 when I wrote the first 50k of what became The Cromwell Rules. I did it again for the second and what’ll be the third novel. I love NaNoWriMo and am so excited for the writers in our community who are cheering each other on this month (they even have their word counts in the same spreadsheet doc AND a NaNo coach in Q&C member Mandi Grace!

That said – here are some of the things that I learned along the way and wanted to share with you:⁠

  1.   Know the REAL reason you are writing your story! If you don’t know why you’re writing this book, then you’ll be very likely to give up when the going gets tough. For example: if you’re writing your book because you want to make your grandmother proud (an emotional tie), you’re more likely to show grit and follow-through. 

Want to know more about how this emotional tie for developing intrinsic motivation works? Watch this one-minute video to learn about the wicked awesome phenomenon! P.S. If you change “learners” to “characters,” this will become a quick craft tip, too!

  1.   Know what your manuscript NEEDS so that you are left with a workable first draft. Whether your book is character-driven or plot-driven, your character DOES need to develop somehow. You can ask, “Does this help develop the character? How?” If it doesn’t, that scene may not be necessary. If you’d like to reflect on whether you should use a plotting method before starting your manuscript, here’s an 11 minute video on the topic

Note: Write WHATEVER GIVES YOU JOY in the first draft. Just know that the next drafts may require shifts and cuts. 

  1.  Understand what the writing process requires. Don’t give yourself an out, but also don’t give yourself an unrealistic goal for the season of life that you’re in. Typically, we average about 600 words per Prickle, which means if you don’t have 2-3 hours to write every day in November, reaching 50k by the 30th might feel nearly impossible. In that case, it’s NOT you - it’s the season of life you’re in and that is okay. 20,000 new words in one month is still such great progress! 

If you haven’t written with us in a Prickle yet and want to feel the accountability + progress (aka magic) that comes from writing in community, schedule one in November! You can DM @quillandcup with your timezone and availability and we'll get you hooked up!!

  1.  Have an idea of what to do AFTER NaNo! There’s a reason writers take the entire month of December off after NaNo - it’s exhausting! It pushes you to your limits. PLEASE MAKE TIME TO REST. Then, when you’re ready, find a place like Quill & Cup to help bolster your spirits (Your book does NOT suck) & encourage you forward (YOU CAN DO IT). 

Here are some more tips from our Quill & Cup NaNo Coach Mandi Grace!

NaNo Tips

1) It's not actually about winning: it's about making progress. The winning part is fun, obviously, but it's not the real goal.

2) Writing fast means writing messy, you'll have to turn off the internal editor.

3) You need a massive amount of determination but you need an extra dose of grace, too.

4) Please don't do it alone -- make sure you have accountability and people who can encourage you, challenge you, or whatever you need as you take on this endeavour.

5) Make sure to have fun! If you focus too much on the word count, it can get stressful.


Did you know that, in addition to a NaNo coach, Quill & Cup members also have a dedicated NaNo Hedgies group within our Sisterhood Slack? With a dedicated writing link so you can write with a like-minded writer whenever you need to get your words in? And resources and answers to questions as they come up? And people to bounce ideas off of when you get stuck? We’d LOVE to have you join us this month! Get started with a trial week on us!

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