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Winning at NaNoWriMo – How to Write a 50,000 Novel in 30 days

Posted in Guest Posts, NaNoWriMo-ers6 Comments

Guest Post by Grady Pruitt.

It’s Halloween. The kids have gone to bed. Your spouse is asleep. But you’re wide awake. Full of anticipation. NaNoWriMo is about to begin.

Time seems to drag. Midnight seems as if it will never get there. You have committed to writing 50,000 words or more in the next 30 days. You’re not quite sure why, but that sounded like a fun idea. Especially when you sit down and realize all you need is 1,667 words a day to reach your goal.

Tick. Tock. The laptop is ready. Tick. Tock. The notes are on the desk. Tick. Tock. Will it ever begin?

Ding! Dong! The clock strikes midnight! It’s now November 1, and you can begin! Before you know it, you’ve dashed off 2,000 words. You didn’t mean to stay up so late, but since you have to get up to take the kids to school and go to work in the morning, you decide to call it a night and head to bed.

The following evening, you sit down, still filled with excitement, and dash of another 2,000 words. You’re more than a day ahead, and feel good about where you are so far.

A week goes by. That full day’s lead has dwindled down to 400. You still feel good about where you are. But you have absolutely no idea what’s ahead. The next thing you know, your characters go on a revolt. That important task you wanted them to do they just refuse to do. Somehow, they wound up in a situation you can’t seem to get them out of.

Another week passes. It’s now the middle of the month. You’re wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into. The last two days, you failed to write anything at all. You’ve felt so stuck that you’re now 5000 words behind. There’s no way you can finish! Thanksgiving looks like you won’t be able to get any writing done because the world has decided it should be at your house this year. You think about giving up. Your friend who you were writing with gave up a week ago. But something inside you won’t let you quit. You wonder how you would feel if you gave up on this dream. Not only that, but by upping our daily goal to 2,000, you can still be pretty close to making it. So you press on.

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You hear about an all-night write-in being held that weekend across town. This just might be the opportunity you need to push your novel back on track. It sounds like a fabulous way to meet other writers. Through the forums, you’ve chatted with one or two, and they are going, so it might be a great time to meet them. One of those won last year. Perhaps they might have a tip that can help you.

The night of the write-in arrives. Your spouse feels like your abandoning them days before being invaded by family, but you assure your spouse that it is just one night and that there is still time to work on the other stuff. Off you go. At the write-in, you have a load of fun. You tell stories about things in your life and listen to others. You learn about word wars where everyone writes for 15 minutes and the one who writes the most wins. Most of them through the night, you loose, but you almost win one toward the end. By the time the night is over, not only have you caught up completely, but you even have built a small lead. Most importantly, the other writers, some of whom have already reached 50,000, have given you courage to face the rest of the month.

The next week is hectic. You write when you can. You go back and forth between being caught up and being behind. Though you thought you wouldn’t be able to write much on Thanksgiving, you manage to find a few moments where you could. But most importantly, you’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. You had a major breakthrough and realized exactly what needs to happen in your story. By the time the fourth week is over, you know you’re on the cusp. With just a few days left, the anticipation begins. Even more of your new writing friends are crossing the 50K mark.

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November 30th arrives. You only have 2500 words left to reach 50K, but you’re starting to feel your story might not be complete at that point. You clear your schedule so you can concentrate on writing. One of your fellow writers tells you that he has 12,000 words to write that day to win. He’s not giving up, and that inspires you. So you write. And write. And Write. You take a break, and write some more. You write all day. Time flies by. You stop every once in a while to cheer on the person who had to write 12K. He’s made it to 9K with about 3 hours to spare. It will be close, but he should make it.

You haven’t bothered checking where you were at. You’re pretty sure your over, but you feel you are so close to those two “magical” words, you decide to press on. Last time you checked, you only needed about 1000 words. That was about 4,000 words ago at your usual pace. But those words are near and you want to get them in before midnight.

Finally, you breath a sigh of relief as you type in those two magical words you’ve been searching for all day. You check on your friend’s progress. According to his last update, an hour and a half ago, he needed about 2000 words. You do a quick check on your novel. 55,678 words! A flood of emotions is released as your arms raise in victory. A “YES!” escapes your lips that you hope doesn’t wake your spouse or children. But that’s okay if you did. You’re celebrating your moment. Victory is yours!

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You copy and paste your novel into the validator. Surprise! The validator says you have 57,149 words! Almost 1,500 more than you thought! Even better!

You dash off a quick note of encouragement to your friend who was pushing for the finish. Eagerly, you anticipate a post from him. Midnight comes. Did he make it in time? Five minutes pass. Ten minutes. Finally, 11 minutes past midnight, your friend posts. He made it! With a minute to spare! He had been celebrating so much he had just forgotten to update everyone!

It’s December 1st. You’re almost too excited to go to bed. November had been filled with emotions. Excitement, doubt, love, hate, joy, sadness… at one point or another, you had been filled with each.

You’re not sure what you think about your novel. It could be a masterpiece in waiting. Or it could be a dud. That’s a matter for another time. But at least you can say you rose to the challenge. Everyone doubted you would do it. But somehow, you held on to the belief that you could. As you try to unwind, you reflect on your achievement. Maybe there are some lessons for life you can learn. Like commitment, setting a goal, breaking that goal into smaller goals, giving the larger goal a deadline, finding support by others, and persistence. You feel like you can take on the world.

And in the morning, you’ll be ready to do just that.

About The Author

Grady Pruitt (also known as gradyp) is a 6 time participant and winner of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). At his blog, Success Building Blocks, he uses his experience with NaNoWriMo, as well as other lessons he has learned, to help others to become successful at life as well as during the event.

6 responses to “Winning at NaNoWriMo – How to Write a 50,000 Novel in 30 days”

  1. Hello, there’s an error with the link to the guest poster’s blog. There’s a missing L.

  2. This post has honestly filled me with so much excitement for NaNo! I can’t wait!

  3. Lyn Midnight says:

    Ha! This is EXACTLY what a NaNo experience is like (well, I don’t know about kids or anything…)! It’s a very amusing and awesome post. I’ll link back to it on the WriMos FTW site. Thanks!

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