Last Minute NaNoWriMo Tips

I’m so excited to get started with NaNo. If you’d like to see how I did last year, check out my NaNoWriMo 2018 post.

This year, I’m starting fresh: new idea, new characters, new world, new everything! It is exciting but also incredibly terrifying.

So, before NaNo officially begins tomorrow I wanted to give you a few last minute tips that can help you on your own NaNo journey.

Name Lists

The last thing you need when trying to bust out as many words as possible in the time that you have is to come across a character that jumped out and interrupted your flow and you find that you don’t know that character’s name. Well, one solution that I’ve come across over the years is to pre-write a list of names that fit within the world and that you like. Then, whenever you need one, either for a place, a character, or a country/city, you have a list to pull from and check off as you go. That way, you never stall on figuring out just the right name, instead you can push forward and worry about “rightness” for that name later. 

Name lists can help you write faster
This years name list for my WIP


One of my biggest pet peeves is hearing my stomach rumbling or taking a break and feeling like there is nothing quick and easy. If you stock up on a few grab and go type snacks for November, even if you want to take a break, you won’t feel overwhelmed with having to make anything difficult. 

Some of my favorite go-to snacks include popcorn, tea, leftover Halloween candy since they’re bite sized, and cereal. Whenever I find myself getting up from my desk, I grab one of these, and often times, I’ll even stay at my desk, grab something out of my desk drawer and snack on it while rereading or contemplating the next scene.

Get your favorite snacks ready
Get your favorite snacks ready

Using Brackets

This is an oldie but goodie. Like the name list above, sitting and figuring out just the right  way to describe the setting or figuring out the elaborate heist plans take a lot of time. And, during Nano, you don’t always have the time, especially those of us who are trying to squeeze writing in between family, careers, and sanity. 

Using brackets are a great way to get the gist written down, without being stuck on something that you can figure out during the second draft. For example, if you can’t figure out how to describe the moment, you might say something like: and then he said [something witty, but really condescending]. And then you can move on!


Avoiding Backspace

This is huge! During my first NaNo, I would actually hide my writing by moving the window off of the screen and just typing. By not looking at what I was typing, I wasn’t tempted to go back and change things, fret over the right word, or self-conscious about getting it just right. Basically, it prevented my inner editor from having any ground to stand on. And I found myself breezing through words without trying to press the backspace or delete button every time I made a typo or every time that I noticed something. Instead, I plowed through, then let spell check clean things up a bit during revisions. 

Get rid of your delete button
This seems a little extreme, but whatever works!

Word Sprints

Sprints are a great way to stay motivated and write with others, it is really the reason that I’m able to get so many words done. The focused, short periods of writing really work for me and I love adding in fun and motivational gifs along the way.

You can find me @leslie_arambula on Twitter and I’ll typically be on during the evenings and the weekends. I’m on PST, so my morning sprints will probably be around 8am PST and evening ones around 4 or 5pm. 

Similarly, if you search #writingsprints #amwriting #nanosprints or similar hashtags or accounts, you’re sure to find people sprinting all day long, no matter the time zone. This, more than anything has been the difference in getting my words done and it is truly the camaraderie of these sprints that make NaNo the fun event that it is.


Give yourself grace

Above all, the best last minute tip is to remember that this is just one month of your journey as a writer. It is not the be all, end all of your career. Keep doing your best, but remember, that not all books can or should be written in 30 days. 

And, as always, I’d love to hear from you and sprint with you! Reach out to me on social media or in the comments below. Tell me about what you’ll be writing this November, NaNo or not. You can see my current WIP under the My Writing tab.


Published by Leslie

I'm an author, teacher, wife, and mother of three who just finished an MFA program and is working on a YA fantasy novel.

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