All the Tricks in the Book

My name is Nicole and I am a NaNo addict.

I’ve been a participant in the NaNo community in Georgia, North Carolina, Dayton, Ohio (for five
years), and now Indianapolis. As someone who has moved often, the write-ins, parties, and community have made it easy to find my people and my tribe.

After so many years, you’d think finishing another 50,000 words would get easier. Alas, it does not.

I’ve learned to deploy numerous strategies for completely my minimum daily word count. Some days, I employ every single trick.

Go Public
Announce your novel on Facebook, Twitter, or to your book club. Then ask others to check in on you at the end of the month. The fear of public embarrassment will help keep your pen moving.

Find an Accountability Partner
I have the same accountability partners every year. They know exactly what I need and we take turns falling into despair. Some years, I even have weekend trips to Georgia or Ohio so we can write together again.

Treat Yourself… Incrementally
Many times I have a line of M&Ms on my desk, allowing myself one for each 100 words. Other times, I treat myself to Thai takeout if I hit my word count by lunch.

Keep Track
I use an Excel spreadsheet which tracks my word count as well as the percentage of my novel completed. I’ve used the marble system as well. One vase holds 50 marbles and the other vase is empty. Move one marble over for every 1,000 words. It’s nice to see tangible evidence of your progress.

Plan to Binge
The month of Thanksgiving is all about binging and overindulging. Binge on your word count at least a few days, when you plan a few over-productive days. My weekends away often produce 20,000 words and a 10,000 word day is my personal best.

Write or Die
Utilize the website, in order to force yourself over a hump. It’s amazing to see how often your eyes wander away from your manuscript.

Word Crawls
Search “word crawls” on the NaNo forum to find a novel way to crank out thousands of words. It’s like circuit training for your novel. The Harry Potter Word Crawl is my favorite.

Change Modalities
I type my novels but if I am truly stuck, I will use pen and paper to access a different part of my brain.

Reward Your Win
Writing a novel is hard. Make sure to reward yourself for hitting 50,000 words. It might be a new pair of boots, a weekend trip, or a pedicure. Splurge a little but make it contingent on actually hitting your word count. I usually reward myself with a full body massage, which is much needed after a long month of being hunched over my keyboard.

So whether it is your first attempt at NaNo or a regular tradition, utilize these tricks of the trades to achieve your 50,000 words.

Follow me online and Buddy me on NaNo (keylocke).


  1. Thank you for all the insightful tips. I need to check out the Harry Potter crawl.

  2. Yay! Nicole! I wish you really were here now in our Dayton Area. I miss doing fun Nano things with you. I just miss seeing you period. Good luck with the writing this year.


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