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Swoon Author Chani Lynn Feener: The Secret to Winning NaNoWriMo

It’s the NaNoWriMo time of year again! That probably means that while you’re reading this, I’m glued to my desk working on a first draft of some sort. Personally, I like to use National Novel Writing Month as a way to get out that one book idea that’s been stuck in my head all year—but that I’ve ultimately neglected for other things. Whether this is your first year participating, or you’ve done so in the past, I’m sure by now you know that the goal of NaNo is to get down 50k by the end of the month. This might sound like a really daunting task, but I promise you, it is totally doable. I’ve won NaNo six years in a row now, and I plan on making this year my seventh. Want to know how I do it?

I write.

That’s it.


That seems really simple, until you consider all the other aspects that come into forming a full fledge novel. There’s the plotting, and the overthinking, and the backtracking, and the rewrites, and the minor/major editing, and a dash of more overthinking to top it all off. All of that is very important…for your final draft. But here’s the real beauty of NaNoWriMo—you aren’t writing your final draft!

The point of NaNo is getting the words, all 50k of them. This month, try not to worry about whether or not what you write is the best thing you’ve ever put down on paper. Don’t freak out if you realize there might be a plot hole somewhere, or if things don’t turn out the way you originally intended. It’s okay to leave things a little messy at this stage—it’s a first draft after all—and no first draft is perfect even when you add in all those other tedious things I listed above. Besides, fleshing out and perfecting is what the editing process is all about, and NaNo knows this! They offer a lot of great pep talks after the end of November that focus solely on editing and how to help you do it.

So, for the remainder of this month, just write. Go off on tangents, let the characters lead you astray, it doesn’t matter. If something doesn’t work, you can always remove it or change it in December! You can’t make something out of nothing. If you want to eventually end up with a fully completed final draft, you need to get the first draft written, and NaNoWriMo is the perfect opportunity for you to do just that!

Plus, hitting that word count goal at the end of every day? That feels pretty good.

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Chani Lynn Feener

Chani Lynn Feener has wanted to be a writer since the age of ten during fifth grade story time. She …

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