Goals: Do You NaNo?

It’s the end of the month, which means it’s time to talk goals moving into November!  And as many writers know, November is NaNo Month.

One of the questions you get asked a lot as a writer is how you do it.  How do you finish the book, how do you get published, how do you find people to read your stuff who aren’t biologically related to you… And one of my standard answers to question number one (how do you finish) is that you just do it.  But I’ve found the best way to do that–to keep my momentum going and make it all the way to The End is to have 1) deadlines and 2) community.  National Novel Writing Month provides both of those.  (As does the Ruby Winter Writing Festival in January/February, but NaNo starts THIS WEEK so we’ll focus on that one.)

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, or just NaNo as it is commonly called by the writerly set, is an online, one-month challenge to write a book (or at least 50,000 words of one) in 30 days – specifically the calendar month of November.  You can set up a profile at their website (HERE), track your progress, and connect with other writers who are in the trenches with you, also working frantically to hit their wordcount goals.  If you win, you get bragging rights – and even if you don’t win (by hitting 50K before Dec 1st) you still have FAR more words on your novel than you did before you started.  And hopefully some writer-friends you picked up along the way.  Total win/win.

Since I’m using the end of each month to talk about goals, motivation and self-care, NaNo seemed like the perfect place to start, as it has a built-in goal structure and provides one of the things that can bolster a writer more than anything–community! 

I’ll be joining NaNo this month as I’m staring down a deadline.  So my questions for you…

Will you be doing NaNo this year?  If so, have you picked out your project?  Are you ready for launch?

Have you done NaNo in the past?  Any tips for those who are about to leap into the breach?

45 responses to “Goals: Do You NaNo?”

  1. Evelyn Smith says:

    I’m a NaNo 1st timer. My goal is simply, at this point, to develop the habit of writing daily. I have a busy life and have always struggled to maintain a space for writing regularly. I even switched to audio book reading bc my love for books was crowded out by time restraints. But if I can figure out the nuts and bolts of putting a book together (I usually do short stories) in a short span of time (even if it’s longer than 30 dys) I believe I’ll be more motivated to take my own writing goals more seriously.
    As far as word count is concerned, I’d be happy with 500-1000/day. That’s short of the 50K goal, but I view it was completing a 5K run in preparation for that marathon.

    • That’s a great way to look at it, Evelyn! The Ruby Winter Writing Festival in Jan/Feb is all about setting your own goals because sometimes that externally imposed 50,000 in one month simply isn’t workable. I’m a big proponent of shooting toward something that will get us moving in the right direction and also give us the satisfaction of hitting our goal so we are motivated to keep going rather than demoralized to have missed it.

      Congrats on your first NaNo! You’ve got this!!!

    • Yay, Evelyn!!! Welcome to NaNoWriMo! Your goals are fantastic and practical.

  2. Melanie Macek says:

    I’ve done NaNo off and on since 2010. One writer I met through the community boards led me to the Rubies, so I would say that fist NaNo changed my life in many ways. I’m doing it this year…twice. I’m writing my own novel, and facilitating the first Young Writers Program NaNo at my elementary school. We have 46 students who’ve signed up! Not bad for a school of only 260 kiddos.

    This year and last year, our local library sponsored write ins and it’s been wonderful having a local, in person, support on the this insane journey. Good luck to everyone participating this year.

    My NaNo profile is melmacek. Send a friend request!!

  3. I’ve never done NANO. November is an insane month for me, and I didn’t even give it a thought until you posted this blog, Vivi. I so love the WWF and, well, Melanie’s kids inspired me. I’m going try it.

    A prayer and wings on the seat of my pants.

    • With that being said… I’ve signed up which leads to question? Do you set you suggest first timers to set their profile public? How do you find Buddies? And any other helpful hints anyone can give would be appreciated.

      • I’ve actually never done it officially through the website. I tend to run alongside NaNo rather than running the marathon with a number on my bib, so to speak. So official NaNo pros – any advice on this one?

    • Woohoo! Go, Autumn, go! I’m glad my little post reminded you of the NaNo awesomeness. 🙂 You’ve got this!

    • Woot woot! Go, Autumn!!! I would add a profile pic. You just never know. And it’s kind of hard to find buddies because many don’t use their name but a pseudonym or a nickname. If you know specific people doing it, you can ask them what their profile is under. I’m just me, though! Friend me! LOL

  4. Kate Parker says:

    I’m doing Nano for the first time. I’ve never been ready to start a new book at the beginning of November, particularly one I know a little about, so this is a good year to try it out.

    I’m going in with no expectations. We’ll see what happens. But I have at least signed up and signed up with the local writers’ group, so there will be some pressure.

    • Good luck, Kate, on your inaugural NaNo! I hope you have a great time exploring your new project. Fingers crossed we both cross the finish line! 🙂

    • Yay, Kate! Good luck! I hope your first experience is a fun one. And write-ins are SO FUN! IDK why. I just love them. Sadly, where I’m at now, there are no local write-ins, so I’m going to do my own. I’m going to a local coffee shop called Sweetwater’s and writing and looking very serious when I do it because I’m there for word count, baby. Don’t mess with me.

      Also, I’ll stop to chat every few minutes. So there’s that.

  5. Elizabeth Langston says:

    I’ve never done NaNoWriMo–and I doubt I ever will. I’m an extremely slow writer. I’ve never written more than 25000 words in a single month, and the pressure to double that would just be miserably insane for a holiday month.

    • I understand, Beth! If you do ever want to give it a try, I’d suggest starting with writing sprints. Perhaps try to write 500 words in an hour. Believe it or not, once we turn off that internal editor, this is rather easy. But you do you, love! Write at your speed and don’t let anyone make you feel like it’s “wrong” or you need to write “faster.” Just no. Writing is a deeply personal process. There is no right way to do it.

    • I often like to go alongside NaNo rather than do it officially. You could always do Half-NaNo, like a half marathon…but only if that would motivate you. It’s all about keeping those creative juices flowing and we’ve got to protect our process!

  6. BC Ellis says:

    This will be my third year to NaNo. When I first heard about it, I thought no way would it work. November is insane. But I thought, why not give it a try. So I did. I had a story that I had already written a few chapters for so I would have a cushion. As a substitute teacher, I had the time to write while my students worked. It worked out well so I did it again last year. I’m excited to get started on Friday. I’ve done more prep work for this one that I have the others.

  7. I do NaNo every year. Some years are better than others, to say the least, but this year I have every intention of winning. I’m not quite finished plotting my project, the second in the Sunshine Vicram series, so I may get a late start, but since this book is due in December, I have another motivator. LOL.

    Good luck, everyone!

  8. Rachel Alexander Grilliot says:

    I’ve done NaNo off and on for the last few years, never to what I would consider a success. Also, over the last few years I was working in retail, so November was always crazy and unpredictable.
    No I have a more regular 8-5 day job, so I feel like I’ll be able to do more, but a lot like Evelyn, I just want to get back in the habit.
    I’ll be happy if I write for 30-45 minutes every day in November, regardless of how many words I end up with.

  9. Rhianna says:

    I( have run out of excuses to NOT do NaNo, so I am finally doing it this year 😀 I am very excited about my project and am ready to go.

    I would love to be Buddies if anyone is interested:

  10. Lisa Abraham says:

    I’ve been a NaNo member for seven years now and I’m ready to go this year! Have my story idea and first scene in mind and can’t wait to get started! Good luck to everyone and may your word counts be high and your story ideas be inspired! Mostly though, have fun with it and revel in the feeling of just being to write without any stops or limits (the proofing and editing will come later).

  11. Jennifer Marvel says:

    I signed up for NaNo this year for the first time. It’s the first November I’ve been able to sign up. I’m excited. My goal is the 50k and trying to get some daily writing accomplished. Since I work full-time I have more time to devote on the weekends to catch-up on word count. I work better with goals and set schedules so I think this will work out for me. I challenged myself last January to write 50k for that month and managed 45. I like that you have buddies to cheer for you. Good luck to everyone this NaNoWriMo;)

  12. C.E. Black says:

    I have tried NaNo many times in the past and have failed all but once during Camp NaNo. I’m usually a pantser, which may have been the problem. So, this year, I’m trying a different approach. I have my project idea, and I’ve finished writing my very first outline. Though I’m still tweaking it even today. I also printed out a sheet that will help me keep track of every 500 words. I’m hoping this will help me accomplish my goal. I want to reach 50K.

    Good luck, everyone! If anyone would like a buddy, I’m ceblack.

  13. Sara Baker says:

    This will be my first time signed up to NaNo. I’m super excited. First time writer, long time reader. 😂 So I’m looking forward to finding out how all of this works.


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