A perfectionist’s guide to winning NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Pep Talk
‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’

NaNoWriMo CrestI am a perfectionist. Not in all aspects of my life, admittedly, but when I commit to something, I commit hard, and NaNoWriMo is no exception. If you’ve been participating in the month-long novel-writing challenge this year, you’ll know it’s no easy feat. You might, like me, be wavering in that difficult middle-point of your novel, unsure of how to plough through.

What should you do? Just keep going.

We’re all vulnerable – no one, and I mean no one, writes a good first draft. Promising, maybe, and filled with potential, yes, but the sooner we convince ourselves that no matter how late we stay up or how much coffee we consume, the work will not be of publishable standard once we hit word count at the end of November, the more likely we are to get it done.

I have to constantly remind myself that what I’m working on is a first draft, that no one else will ever clap eyes on it, (unless someone deigns to look over my shoulder as I’m scribbling away,) and that there’s no need for it to be perfect. So much of my time is spent re-reading and re-drafting, but that’s not what NaNoWriMo is for – it’s a month to get the words out, in any shape or form.

Think of your words like glitter, thrown at a page layered with old pritt-stick. Some will stick and some will fall away, but not until you’re ready to pick up that page and dust off the excess.

“Begin at the beginning,’ the King said, very gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

It’s irritates me immensely that this year’s word count chart doesn’t look as neat and tidy as last year’s, to the point that I’ve had to stop myself from cheating and amending it. That ‘edit word count by day’ button is looking increasingly tempting. This is entirely illogical – I would only be fooling myself. Nobody else was even going to see the chart until I decided to post it here on my blog.


The best advice I could give to any NaNo participant would be to keep going and to be kind to yourself. 1,667 words a day, 1,000 or even just 500 – it doesn’t matter. They’re all words and they all count towards your total. Commit to whatever is reasonable and attainable for you as an individual and chip away, one day at a time, until you get there. Which you will, eventually. It might not be done in a month, it might not even be done in 6, but it will be done, some day soon, as long as you keep putting words on paper.

‘She generally gave herself very good advice, (though she very seldom followed it).’

alice in wonderlandDon’t forget to use the excellent resource that is NaNo Word Sprints on Twitter. Buddy up with me on NaNo if you’re interested in following my progress, and please let me know what you’re working on in the comments below – I’d love to hear about your projects and follow your progress too.

I’m heading off now, to try following my own advice. I’m behind at the moment and determined to catch up. Wish me luck – I may need it!


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