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NaNoWriMo: Tips on Writing a Book

The last five thousand words

While it may be true that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, it is also true that the most difficult step of the journey is the final one. Any marathon runner will tell you something similar. Finishing is less about your capabilities and more about having the mental discipline and stamina to push past the finish line. Participating in NaNoWriMo is a marathon of writing, and finishing depends solely on you. That being said, wants to suggest some tips to writing a book that will help you cross the finish line.


When doing research for this article, I came across a fantastic tip on writing a book known as “underwriting.” Underwriting is defined as jotting down the story’s bare bones just to make sure it works. Character development, dialogue, and description are kept to a minimum. Underwriting will help keep you moving on to the next chapter. If novel writing is a process, then think of National Novel Writing Month as the next step after outlining. Underwriting does mean that, at some point, you will have to go back and continue to develop your novel.  In order to get your NaNoWriMo novel published, you will have to do this anyway because in terms of length, a 50,000-word novel is small. It’s about half the length of a conventional novel and about two-thirds the length of a romance novel.

Cheap tips to writing a book that work

Bearing in mind that NaNoWriMo is about quantity, not quality, the following tips for boosting word count should only be used in the direst of circumstances by the most desperate of writers. Now, as I am a desperate writer who frequently finds herself in dire circumstances, I am not above using these tricks; so, don’t feel too bad if you decide to use them. Always spell out numbers (e.g., twenty-five, instead of 25). Use characters’ full names (e.g., Theodore Eduardo Bere walked into the office). Never use contractions. These simple techniques can be used to bump up your word count when all hope is lost.

Don't Edit

This tip may sound strange coming from, but under no circumstances are you to edit. NaNoWriMo doesn’t care about split infinitives, misplaced modifiers, or the order of adjectives. All they care about is helping you write a novel in a month. That first draft may be awful in terms of language. Let it be awful. It’s a first draft. Stop obsessing over perfection and just write. Editing is a painstakingly slow process and one that causes you to second guess every single choice you make. Once the month is over, you can begin editing. But by the time December rolls around, you might be slightly sick of your story. You might not even want to look at it again until 2012. Well, that’s fine too. We cannot wait to have a peek at all those NaNoWriMo books. Either way, save the editing for another time or one of our book editors.


Remember, the final step makes everything you went through this past month worth it. When you’re at 45,000 words and you think you can’t possibly write another word, try using these techniques. You will push through and, when the word count finally reaches that magic number, you will collapse out of sheer creative exhaustion. Drag yourself to the kitchen, open the fridge, and pop the cork on that bottle of champagne you’ve been saving. Congratulate yourself; you’ve done it! You’re a novelist.

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