NaNoWriMo writing tips from successful authors

Every few days, NaNoWriMo participants receive an email “pep talk” from a published author. Since I’m a participant again this year, I’ve received them and tweeted some of the pearls that the authors share with us.

A pep talk encourages and inspires someone to reach a goal. For NaNoWriMo writers, that goal is reaching 50,000 words before the end of November. The authors who have partnered with NaNo are all successful and have taken the time to cheer us on. Here are my favorite lines from the pep talks we’ve received so far.

  • Regardless of the words that fill those pages, whatever story you choose to tell, the great discovery of this month will be the stack of pages that bears the words that did not exist a mere month before. You will possess the evidence of time spent at your computer, unspooling the narrative in your head. You will have hard evidence, and this will always grant you conviction. Kevin Wilson
  • So as you enter this month of writing, write for yourself. Write for the story. And write, also, for all of the people who doubt you. Write for all of those people who are not brave enough to try to do this grand and wondrous thing themselves. Let them motivate you. Kate DiCamillo
  • How many times as a writer have you gotten so caught up in the next step of the writing process that you lose sight of the real finish-line: getting to the end? Are you suffering from a case of go-back-and-fix-it, or worse, page-perfectionitis? Stop worrying about editing or finding the perfect word, and just get to the end. Gennifer Albin
  • You don’t have to listen to the coach when he screams at you that your novel is out of control, that your characters are misbehaving, that the plot has gotten away from you. Slipperiness is good. Sloppiness is OK. Try to cultivate a maternal patience with your own uncertainty and doubt; a tolerance for bad writing; a willingness to let a story develop embryonically. Karen Russell
  • But first drafts are supposed to be rough, and I guarantee you’re too deep in the process right now to recognize all the great stuff you’ve put on those pages. Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo
  • So that’s my advice if you’re running out of steam. It’s not always about writing more words or drinking more coffee. Sometimes getting to the end of a novel simply takes remembering that the world is more complicated than we know, and then sticking some of those complications into the story. Scott Westerfeld

These are gems. And they’re not reserved for NaNo writers. Take them to heart and put them to work for your writing today.


4 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo writing tips from successful authors

  1. I haven’t been able to read all of the NaNo inspirational posts, but the ones that I have really have helped me power through some of the tougher spells.

    How is NaNo going for you?


  2. Excellent post, Darla. It almost makes me wish I’d signed up to do this.
    Almost, but not quite. November has 3 major family gatherings (in addition to going to Kansas for Thanksgiving with my family and my mom in two different towns).
    If NaNo were in January (we’d have to change the letters), I’d do it. Already in January, five of us each have to write, edit and submit one long short story or two short ones, have have two back up submission places. It keeps us busy, but it nothing like writing a novel!
    I’m inspired by you brave souls doing this, and wish you every success.


    1. NaNoWriMo is nothing compared to family gatherings. Talk about a challenge! I love them, though, and I’ll be hosting the gathering this Thanksgiving for my family.

      I know your Thanksgiving will be lovely since you’ll be spending it with your mom. I hope you plan to write a post on your time with her on that holiday.


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