The Only NaNo Guide You’ll Need

NaNoWriMo begins tomorrow! Which means the writing community will be enveloped in a cacophony of page rustling, pen scratching, coffee sipping chaos. And I can’t wait.

Are you participating this year? Let me know in the comments!

I’m excited to be taking another crack at NaNo. This will be my sixth time doing NaNo… and I’ve finished twice. I’m aiming to make this lucky number three, so here at the Lexicon Writing Blog, you’ll be shown a good NaNo time: tons of blog posts, resources in the library, and I’ll share my successful NaNo experiences to my newsletter subscribers. Be sure you’re subscribed to get in on all the action… and the free resources… there’s some great stuff in there!

Now NaNo can be a bit intimidating… it’s not every day you sit down to write a whole novel in 30 days. But I can guarantee that this will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life, even if you don’t finish. This post is to make sure you’re completely prepared for what’s ahead.

We’re going to start with where most writers start:

Pantser vs. Planner

Do you fly by the seat of your pants or do you have an in-depth outline to work from? Either one works for NaNoWriMo. I’ve completed NaNo both ways and there’s no right or wrong way.

But if you’ve hung around this blog long enough, you probably know that I am, in fact, a planner. A good outline makes everything better.

Whether you’re waiting until November 1 to dive in or you’ve already worked through a Character Profile for each member of your ensemble cast, you’ll be just fine come Day 1.

How to Succeed

There are a million ways to succeed at NaNo. Some people like to write their whole novel in the first week, some procrastinate to gold-medal heights and wait till the last week. Generally, you do you when it comes to how you mark your success.

However, I’m sharing the tips that helped me get through NaNo. Cause you know me… I love a good, helpful tip.

Track your daily word count – this is fairly self-explanatory and you can do this on the NaNo website. Make sure you’re writing your daily goal of 1,667 words and be sure to update your word count on the daily!

Start heavy – This is what I’d call a secret to my success: For the first two months of NaNo, I aim for 1900 words a day, rather than the expected 1,667. Doing this gets me over halfway to my goal. The third week, I write 1800 words a day. By the last week of NaNo, all I have to do is write just over 10,000 words which really, isn’t that much. Give me four hours on a Saturday, some good music, and a fire under my ass and I can crank that out. So can you.

Don’t write on Thanksgiving – I’ve got a whole post on how self-care is the key to a successful NaNo but this is one of the main rules: set aside the time you need during the month of November. If you celebrate Thanksgiving, don’t pressure yourself to write while you have family in town or you’re trying to cook a turkey. All it leads to is poor scenes and overcooked turkey.

Set yourself up for success – Whether that’s writing a lot the day before a busy day, planning your writing time like a meeting, creating an outline, creating a playlist, waking up earlier, whatever you need to do, get doing it. You’ll not only feel way better for having done it, but you’ll also be helping out your future self.

Coming Up With your Genre, Title, and Summary

Now, I’m normally the type of person who comes up with my title once I’ve finished my story and pulled out a few strands of hair trying to figure out what the hell to name this thing. So when you create your novel on the NaNo website, don’t stress. You can always leave these things empty, especially if you’re a panster and are waiting till Nov. 1 to actually make decisions.

If, however, you do know what you’re book info is, fill it out. You can refer back to it when you’re lacking inspiration.

Finding Friends: Don’t Write in a Vacuum

There is nothing worse for your writing than not having anyone to share it with.


Writing with friends will do wonders for your writing. Not only will you have people to bounce ideas off of, you’ll also be able to work through blocks, brainstorm new scenes, and make big decisions with a few other minds to help you out.

But how to find writing friends?

Well, the NaNo website is a great place to start! Join the forums, attend events, and put yourself out there. Additionally, you can find writing groups and friends on Tumblr, Twitter, and even Instagram. Just do a search and put yourself out there. Once you find people you trust, your writing will grow in leaps and bounds.

Plus, share snippets and you’ll likely get a bit of free editing!

You’re going to do amazing. Just get writing!



Alexis Truitt

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