For those of you who are new to this information, National Novel Writing Month is a platform dedicated to writers who come together during November and write at least 50,000 words(or more) and take the win.

The challenge commences on the 1st of November every year and goes up until the 30th of November. The first time it began, there were less than even 100 participants. Cut to the last year, more than 5lakh people have registered for NaNoWriMo so far. How cozy it is to stay up all night in the chills of cold November weather, being all warm and mushy, having Pumpkin Pie and Cinnamon Maple Latte by your side, and sipping and writing alternatively. Safe to say, just the thought is enough to get you all in the feels.

Isn’t it meticulously insane that we have got one full month to dedicate entirely to storytelling? Like, a great bunch of people just coming together and enjoying the art of narrating a story, putting in so many efforts, and writing a whole novel, how amazing is that!

To walk you through the basic rules of NaNoWriMo, the only thing you need to know, after creating a project on the NaNoWriMo website, is that the word limit as of 30th  November should be more than or a minimum of 50,000 words. Everything else is secondary. You can either complete your novel into a full-fledged story even after the end of the month, or you can take it up again next year.

Given below is the survival guide that you need to follow for winning National Novel Writing Month this year, along with many free checklists that will prove resourceful in building your story right from scratch.

1.Intention Over Contention

Carrie Ryan, the New York Times best-selling author who wrote her book The Forest of Hands and Teeth during 2006 NaNoWriMo said, “To be honest, my goal wasn’t really to write 50k words in a month, it was to WRITE.  See, I’ve found that it’s easy to want to write, to think about writing, to plan to write but not always easy to actually sit down and write.” The tricky part about National Novel Writing Month is that authors get all pumped up and excited to win the race but overlook this primary thing that nothing matters more than the fact that you want to write. Not for the fellow authors, not to prove something, not to win either, but to just let yourself get doused in the process of writing while enjoying every bit of it, instead of forcing it just because you ‘have to.’

2.Do Some Mind Mapping

Having an outline of the story in your hands before beginning the first chapter helps you save a lot of time. It is easy to write when you don’t have to prepare everything from scratch and brainstorm at every stage.  A chapter-wise breakup of the entire plot is a place to begin.

You can also create visual charts and mind maps to lay out the entire storyline. If you already know what is about to happen, you will not waste your time contemplating the occurrence of events and focus more on getting the point across. Here’s how you can ensure that you’ve covered all the crucial points leading up

Simple Checklist of Events:

  1. Listing the setting.
  2. Introduction of the character.
  3. Interesting events from where the book begins.
  4. Revealing the protagonist.
  5. Stirring up conflict.
  6. Increasing the action.
  7. Uncovering whatever is at stake.
  8. The turning point.
  9. Repercussions and reactions.
  10. Conflict resolution.

3. Identify the Type of Writer You Are

Self-awareness is a tool that many people fail to realize the relevance of. Instead of being one of them, identify your writing patterns and alter your action by your type. If you are the kind of writer who does a lot of fact-checking before finalizing your draft, do not waste your time shifting from one Google tab to another.

Keep a journal handy, prepare your bullet points and tally with that while writing the chapter. to help you identify your patterns, here’s a simple checklist you can look up and relate to:

Which One Are You?

  1. The procrastinator- keeps delaying the work for another hour.
  2. The socialite- spends more time talking about writing on the internet than actually writing.
  3. The uplifter- leaves his/her work midway to listen to others.
  4. The binge eater- spends more time snacking and sipping coffee while writing.
  5. The impulsive writer- switches between chapters, writing software, begins another project without completing the previous one.
  6. The resourceful writer- has ten pens, three notebooks, all writing tools, and maps handy and keeps flipping them.
  7. The theorist- has ten possible resolutions for one conflict, gets confused while choosing.
  8. The inattentive- gets distracted even with the sight of a plain wall.

4.Create Character Profiles in Advance  

The character sheet is the go-to document for all writers. Before the onset of NaNoWriMo, get that cute notebook you got last summer out and divide it into as many sections as the number of your characters. Start with the protagonist to the least important ones, in that order, and compile everything there is to know about your character. It is nearly impossible to memorize every single detail.  Even if you think of inventing the character details on the go, there’s a fair chance that it’ll turn out to be full of inconsistencies. To avoid that, here’s a 10-step comprehensive checklist that you can use as a template to enlist everything about your characters.

  1. Personal details like name, the meaning of the name, date, and place of birth.
  2. Physical appearance like complexion, the color of eyes, type of hair and color, ethnicity, body type, height and weight, birthmark, any peculiar feature, etc.
  3. Family background, including everyone’s name in the family, number of siblings, etc.
  4. Beliefs like religious, spiritual, philosophical, social, political, sexual, etc.
  5. Taste and Preferences like favorite food, person, color, captivity, hobbies, etc.
  6. Pet peeves like dislikes, enemies, situations, etc.
  7. Childhood history including best friends, education, the atmosphere at home, location, type of neighborhood,  socioeconomic status,  parents occupation,  fondest memory, Lifestyle, harshest memory, etc.
  8. Future aspirations like dreams and goals, expectations, preferred destination, etc.
  9. Communication patterns like accents, dialect, stammering, speed, fluency, use of slags, ability to perceive, non-verbal cues, etc.
  10. Type of nature like arrogance, sweet, humble, trustworthy, secretive, lonely, regretful, violent, cautious, daredevil, etc.

5.Assemble Your Essentials

Looking for everything at the last minute can be a stump at the beginning of your writing schedule. While doing so might feel like you’re getting things done, it is no real progress if it doesn’t increase your word count.

Whether it is finding the perfect playlist to go with your mood while writing, hoarding your munching snacks for the night, creating the cover of your novel, finding your favorite colored pens, or simply deciding on the best writing software, get all of these done even before the month begins.

You don’t want anything to slow down your process before it has begun. Following is a quick checklist of almost everything you need to organize your NaNoWriMo like a pro:

  1. Day to day schedule planner
  2. Playlist
  3. Becoming a part of a writing community
  4. Sticky notes, journals, paperclips, pens, highlighters
  5. Handy timer or stopwatch (not in your cell phone)
  6. Printable calendar to track weekly progress
  7. A tested writing tool like Google Docs, Microsoft, Pure Writer, etc.
  8. A clean, clutter-free, and tidy workspace
  9. Light snacks and drinks
  10. Charged gadgets

6. Write on The Go

Every word you write brings you one word closer to winning the national novel writing month. While writing should be a priority for you, it is difficult to sideline other work that needs your attention. On days when even scheduling seems like an overreach, begin writing in between the other tasks. If you have a 30-minute window while commuting, open your notes app and spill whatever is inside your system. Even if it essentially feels like an info dump, let yourself have it.

Let that sense of urgency underline your writing. There’s always plenty of time to kill your darlings later. Developing this habit can shoot up your productivity and efficiency, and who knows, you might even be able to take a day or two off for relaxing! Here’s how you can manage your writing productively without compromising on other tasks:

How to Be More Productive During NaNoWriMo Checklist:

  1. Turn off your notifications.
  2. Use apps that block you from navigating to any other app except the one you’re using to write.
  3. Use Pomodoro technique.
  4. Uninstall Netflix and Prime Video for a month.
  5. Set a goal of 200-300 words in one sitting.
  6. Break down the writing into small parts.
  7. Track your activity during the day.
  8. Spare an hour for exercise or meditation.
  9. Don’t spend too much time thinking, just write.
  10. Spare time for some recreational activity too.

7. Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself

Amidst all this overwhelming urge to win the NaNoWriMo challenge, don’t become all about it. If you’re somehow unable to spare time for writing during the day because of other endeavors, don’t pull an all-nighter to keep up with it. While discipline is important, you must also know that a little rejuvenation time will not hinder your progress but foster it more efficiently. If at any point this whole writing charade begins to take a toll on your mental health, remember that you’re allowed to put yourself above everything.

Self-care Tips While Keeping Up with NaNoWriMo

  1. Stay hydrated.
  2. Sleep for 8 hours a day.
  3. Workout for a while.
  4. Five minutes of focused breathing before and after writing.
  5. Decrease your screen time by avoiding social media.
  6. Don’t compare your progress with other writers.
  7. Spend time out in nature.
  8. Create a vision board for your book.
  9. Listen to music after every goal completion.
  10. Get up to stretch after every writing session.

8. Write Now, Edit Later

Usually, the first week of NaNoWriMo is the most zealous and exciting time to write. If you’re smart, you will use this time to extract maximum progress out of it. On average, you need to write roughly 6 pages a day for the next 30 days to reach the 50,000 words mark. Most writers fall behind their schedule when they end up spending more than the required time on one chapter, just to make it ‘perfect.’ Fixing a few misplaced commas isn’t half as important as reaching towards the end of your story. Stephen King, in his book On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft said, “when you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.”

9. Track Your Progress

L. Doctorow said, “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” one hell of a way to put it, right? In simpler words, you just have to keep driving, one turn at a time! To track your daily progress, you have to decide based on consideration. Keep setting goals, and surpass them every day! If you do this right, pat yourself on the back and tick one item off your wish list every week.

How to Give Yourself A Reality Check

  1. Always aim higher.
  2. Keep your perfectionist version aside.
  3. Use an app to note the word count.
  4. Stick to one approach, either chapter-wise or storyline-wise.
  5. Even if you write less, write consistently.
  6. Match your progress with the to-do list.
  7. Set a reminder every 2 hours.

10.Don’t Skip a Day  

While talking about the importance of having a writing schedule, Haruki Murakami in 2004 in an interview with The Paris Review said, “The repetition itself becomes the important thing.” Developing the habit of writing every day will take you farther, make you feel more relaxed and allow you to stay ahead of schedule. You will enjoy writing more if you commit yourself to the process willingly instead of thinking of it as a burden. November is usually a busy month in many countries, and it is important not to get carried away on days you don’t ‘feel like’ it. A little leeway in terms of time is okay, but try sticking to your schedule as much as possible.

Checklist to follow the schedule

  1. Prioritize instead of procrastinating.
  2. Write at the same time every day.
  3. Cut all distractions.
  4. Make a to-do list a day before.
  5. Do not get up unless you’ve met your target.

What next?

Now that you know how to make it through the national novel writing month and win it as well, we’re sure you’d have felt a sense of relief knowing it’s not that hard a nut to crack! Even if you’re someone who dawdles your way to the end, following these tips, you’ll do fine.

Starting from the layout of your novel, you have got a super fun checklist to match your storyline with. This will help you cut out any doubt about missing some crucial element from the plot. After you are done with that, a little guessing game about your writer’s profile will leave you stunned at the magnitude of these archetypes.

Make this national novel writing month your chance to bolt past your limits and outshine yourself with a brand-new book in your hand.