Can You Write a Novel in One Month? 5 Tips to Get Started

Have you ever daydreamed about writing a novel? How about writing one in a month. That’s the goal for the 500,000 writers jumping on board of this year’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which takes places every November.

Founded by author Chris Baty in 1999 as self-motivation for his own drive to write, Baty—author of No Plot? No Problem! and Ready, Set, Novel—had no idea it would one day become an official non-profit, and a creative phenomenon. Since 1999, over 2 million writers have participated in NaNoWriMo, with an average of 15 percent hitting their goal of completing the first draft of a novel in the allotted month.

Many great reads have been birthed from the wordy month, from Hugh Howey’s Wool to Sara Gruen’s Water For Elephants.

Today we sat down with Grant Faulkner, Executive Director of NaNoWriMo, to glean some tips on how to write an entire novel in a scant 30 days.

“NaNoWriMo is essentially a writing community,” says Faulkner, who explains that Baty modeled the format for NaNoWriMo on a 50,000 word novel. Broken down over 30 days, that’s roughly 1,666 words a day. “For me thats about 2 hours a day,” says Faulkner, who participates in the month-long write-a-thon every year.

“The number one reason people think they can’t do NaNoWriMo is because they’re too busy,” says Faulkner. “Everyone says that. We’re all busy. But part of that is reality and part is perception. A lot of people want to write a novel, but it’s hard to get it into the number one spot on your to-do list.”

Below are Faulkner’s top tips for setting yourself up for a successful novel writing month.

Scan your schedule. At its core, NaNoWriMo is an exercise in time management, says Faulkner. “It’s a wonderful way to make sure to make your priorities in life come through.” Leading up to the start of the month, scrutinize your schedule for any pockets of time you could reattribute. Is waking up two hours earlier feasible? What about those two TV shows you watch nightly? You can skip them for a month if it means making your novel-writing dreams come through.

Let your circle know. If you tell your people that you’re writing a novel in a month and put it out there, they will keep you accountable. They will ask on Thanksgiving how it’s coming along, and understand why you’re holing yourself up in your office after dinner. Tell your roommate, your partner, your family. Plus, by letting those around you know what’s up, you can get out of doing the dishes for 30 days with the old “I have to work on my novel” excuse, Faulkner semi-jokes.

Plan for lapses. If you’re a first time marathoner, it’s no surprise that at some point along those 26.2 miles, you’ll need to stop and walk, notes Faulkner. This doesn’t mean you need to stop the race halfway through – just give yourself a break. The same applies to writing a novel in a month. “Some days will be better than others,” Faulkner warns. Just keep pushing toward that 50,000 word goal.

Join a community. To help bolster your efforts, NaNoWriMo offers support groups across the country for participating novelists. Simply sign up on their website and search for groups near you. “The people who succeed often participate in these communities and find writing groups that go beyond November,” says Faulkner.

Jump in. Whether you’re an outliner or a spur-of-the-moment creative, the number one way to get your novel off the ground is just to begin. “Every writer is different, and there’s no prescribed way,” says Faulkner. “People often stop themselves with planning and research instead of just diving into the writing.” For many, NaNoWriMo offers just the right amount of pressure to get going.

There’s still time to sign up for NaNoWriMo. Leave your excuses at the door.

92 comments

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Chen Boon Fook
Chen Boon Fook2 years ago

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Mandy T
Mandy T2 years ago

Few days ago I read an article about how to finish a book and stop procrastination. The main idea was to set deadlines and if you don't make it in time you have to 'punish' yourself. The last one deadline that author set for himself was a strong motivation. He had to write a check to politician he despite. And he finished it. No one like the idea of giving money he earned to someone else. Here is it if you are interested in all article. So all plans to write 500-1000 words per day is good but real stress is a key to success.

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Jim Ven
Jim V2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

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Mariana L
Mariana L2 years ago

thanks you for sharing

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Peggy B.
Peggy B2 years ago

Great tips

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Peggy B.
Peggy B2 years ago

TYFS

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