From the Archives: “Seven Ways to Make NaNoWriMo More Enjoyable”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.


[ Originally posted: October 31st, 2012 ]

I am so proud of all the self-publishing authors who are beginning the NaNoWriMo challenge TOMORROW! It takes courage and dedication to commit to writing a book, especially when your timeline is only 30 days. To make the task easier, it is important to stay organized and focused. Here are seven tips to make the NaNoWriMo experience more enjoyable for all self-publishing authors.

1. Get in the “write” mindset. Before you begin each writing session, prepare yourself mentally. Everyone has a different approach that works for them. If you aren’t sure what is best for you, try different tactics. Some ideas include reading a few pages written by one of your favorite authors, listening to inspiring music, or doing a few yoga poses. The goal is to clear your  mind and get focused on your book.

2. Create a schedule and write it on the calendar. Decide exactly when and where you will write, and make sure friends and family know when you’ll be unavailable. You may have to pass on a few social events this month to fit in extra writing time. If you do have events you have to attend, schedule writing time elsewhere during that day.

3. Don’t forget about your outline. While your story may morph into something you didn’t expect, it is a good idea to keep the outline you created prior to NaNoWriMo on hand at all times. It is your road map to finishing your book and will keep you from getting off course. There will be time to make changes to your manuscript after NaNoWriMo has ended. For now, your goal is to finish the manuscript.

4. Keep an idea notebook with you at all times. As you write your story,  you may think of ideas for later chapters. Be sure to have a spot where you can joint down any ideas that come to mind. It is a good idea to keep this notebook with you even when you aren’t writing. Sometimes the best ideas appear when you aren’t working on your book at all.

5. Give yourself a break. Writing a book in a month is time-consuming. This is not the month to hold yourself to unrealistic expectations. It is okay to order take-out for dinner, accept your mother-in-law’s offer to switch your laundry, and let the kids watch an extra hour (or two) of TV. For now, focus all of your energy on your book.

6. Get moving. Sitting at a computer all day is tough on your body, so be sure to schedule in some time to exercise. Go a for a short walk, or do some stretches. Not only is it good for your body, but exercise can else help clear your mind and break through writer’s block.

7. Reward yourself. When you reach your writing goals each day, acknowledge your success and reward yourself. Treat yourself to a bubble bath, ice cream sundae, or other special reward. You deserve it.

Writing a book can be challenging, so you need to have a plan, be surrounded by supportive people, and take care of your mind and body. Doing so will help you stay on track and focus on your book. It is when we let ourselves become overwhelmed and exhausted that we aren’t able to stay organized and successfully finish our manuscripts.

I’d love to know, how do you plan to make NaNoWriMo more enjoyable?

– by Kelly Schuknecht

By  now you’re more than halfway through November and your NaNoWriMo challenge—congratulations!! I couldn’t be more proud to be part of this fantastic community of authors than I am today, in November of 2016. Let’s talk a little about how it’s going!


(That badly, huh? Well, let’s hope not. There are a gazillion “Keep Calm and …” memes out there and I will use all of them if I have to in order to cheer you up and keep you motivated. I say “you” but really I mean “me, too.”)

What are the challenges we face most often in the midst of November? I can’t necessarily speak for you, but I can speak for myself and those writers who I keep in close contact with—and we all seem to suffer most from three concrete struggles:

  1. Low energy.
  2. Lack of direction.
  3. Low confidence.

You’ll note that all three of these issues are touched on, even if only obliquely, in my original post from 2012. The ways to conquer low energy include getting up and moving around and giving yourself a break. The ways to find a sense of direction include putting yourself in the “write” mindset and working from an outline (if you haven’t written one ahead of time, it’s still a good idea to set aside an hour or two to sketch out something mid-November). And the ways to combat low confidence? Let’s just say one of the first things I write in my “idea notebook” each year is a list of quotes and facts about authors I love, many of whom have faced the exact same challenges and overcome them.

There’s no one way to “Keep Calm and Carry On”—instead, there are many, many ways. Not all of them will work for you, and even the ones that used to work for you four or five years ago might not work now. I find that the older I become, the more I struggle with maintaining my sense of focus and direction, which puts the related coping mechanisms under a lot of strain. Take a moment this November to evaluate where you’re at and what struggles you face, and tailor your approach to those needs—objectively, and with an eye out for how you’ve changed. Consider it the writing equivalent of your yearly physical exam at the doctor’s!

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog,

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