NaNoWriMo: Tips For Completing Your First Draft


I tried National Novel Writing Month for the first time last year by suggestion of one of my best friends. It was summer and I was getting ready to head off to university for the first time, so naturally, the idea sounded crazy.

Write 1,667 words every day, finish the month with 50,000 words, AND be in the middle of a 15 college credit semester??? Impossible!

Let me tell you, friends, I wrote my second novel while taking 17 college credits and working a few hours a week. It wasn’t easy, but it was possible.

Writing your first draft is the fastest part of the writing process.

Yes, 1,667 words a day is a LOT, but if you’re really into your story, it goes pretty quick.

I’ll be honest. I loved this year’s novel—then I hit day 3. You read that right. By November 3rd I was ready to quit, but I refused. My novel, now nearly complete draft, is terrible. When I tell people this they reply with, “You’re your own worst critic. It’s probably great.” No. Actually. It’s not. In fact, I was so discouraged while writing this novel that I had to keep reminding myself that it’s just the first draft and it will get better.

What do I do when I want to give up?

Keep writing. When those voices in your head start telling you to quit, ignore them. One of my college professors gave us an example similar to the following:



This is a powerful example that I love. If we spend all our time making the first draft perfect, we’ll never make it past page one.

What if I get writer’s block or get stuck?

Either take a break and come back, or skip the scene and move on.

I’ve heard that taking a break and going for a walk is really helpful to work past writer’s block. For me, I didn’t have time to do that. I had to get my word count in then and there or it wouldn’t happen that day, so I skipped the scene and wrote what I knew I wanted to happen next.

Final Thoughts

Writing is tough. But as a writer, it’s impossible to be successful without writing. Just begin—let yourself write badly and don’t stop. Editing comes later. Any mistakes you make, can be fixed—later.

Set a word count goal. It doesn’t have to be 1,667 words a day, it can be 300. Just make a conscious effort to meet it every day.

Now stop reading about writing and go write!


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