first draft motivation productivity

3 books to help boost your NaNoWrimo word count

Yes, it’s November, and that means another NaNoWriMo is here again!

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is an annual event where writers from around the globe get together to produce a novel’s worth of output in a single month. Since everybody works through this challenge as a group, there’s a baked-in support network. There are regional groups and meetups too, so you’ll always have others who can help you through the marathon.

Why take part? If you complete the challenge, you have fifty-thousand words! What happens if you fail? Nothing, really! Let’s say you only (note the emphasis on only) manage thirty-thousand words, you’re still thirty-thousand words ahead of where you were in October, right? Same deal if you “only” write ten-thousand, five-thousand, or even one hundred words.

And what if the words don’t feel right? Consider this an exercise in speed writing combined with an introduction to a vibrant and fun community of like-minded people.

NaNoWriMo isn’t for everybody, but it might be just the thing you need to get moving on that big project you’ve been procrastinating.

If this is something you’re interested in, here are three great books that can help you reach the finish line. And they’re all affiliate free, so we’re not trying to make any money off these sales–these are genuine recommendations.

first draft productivity

Why you shouldn’t worry about first draft formatting

If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.

Margaret Atwood

Starting a new writing project is exciting. Perhaps the idea has been stewing in your brain for weeks or months, or maybe it erupted from your head like Athena.

New writing projects come with lots of unanswered questions. Who should the main character be? What are the world’s rules? Should you write in first person, third person, or should you take a more experimental approach?

What about more subtle concerns, like the font size or the formatting? Should you write this project in a format designed for your agent, whether you have one or not? Is it better to plan for a self-published story and to save time now by setting up your document as close to the final formatted version as possible?

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Most writers should consider the first draft as a place to think more about the story and less about the presentation. Develop your character, your setting, your plot, and give yourself all sorts of room to explore your new world. Forget about page margins and font sizes for now.

motivation productivity

Writing when you only want to plan

Imagination is a wonderful thing. A major reason that many of us write is to realize the unforgettable characters, gorgeous locations, and killer plots bouncing around in our heads.

The only drawback to having a great imagination is that it’s easier to simply imagine an amazing world than to generate words that evoke the same feelings.

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Have you ever tried to put words on the page that don’t feel right? Do you have a folder full of half-baked ideas that would certainly become best sellers if you could only find the right words? I certainly do.

Why does it feel so easy to imagine a complicated world while feeling so hard to write about that world?

This is a call for all you plotters. You’re not alone in this battle.

A word after a word after a word is power.

Margaret Atwood
productivity revision

My first draft is done, now what?

Congratulations! You’ve completed the first draft of your story. You’ve put in the time by writing, typing, pondering, and plodding on through it all. You’ve sweated, snacked, and maybe even cursed a few times. And after all of that, the first draft is done.

So, uh, what now?

First thing’s first. You’re awesome. Finishing a first draft is a huge task, and by finishing, you’re already way ahead of the field.

Finishing a first draft can be spooky! Should you now write the draft again from scratch and hope the second time works out better than the first? Or should you re-read every chapter again, hunting for flaws? Or does finishing the first draft mean that you’re all done and can start hunting for an agent?

What’s a writer to do?

You’re a lot closer to being done, but there is still some work ahead of you. Fortunately, you can use some objective approaches to get from first draft to the final version.

motivation productivity

What to do when you have too many ideas

We’ve all been there. We’ll be plugging away at a story, diligently banging out the words. Before we know it, as if getting a glimpse of a shiny toy on the edge of our vision, we’ll be captivated by something new.

  • This story’s fine, I guess, but I’d enjoy writing this other story even more!
  • Wouldn’t it be cool if I wrote a novella about this secondary character?
  • Sure, the antagonist is bad, but what if there was a different villain? While I’m at it, why not change the hero?
  • You know what would make this better? A PREQUEL TRILOGY WITH LASER BUNNIES.
With credit to Alex Norris (

My hard drive is littered with abandoned drafts. Yours might be too.

How can we stop ourselves from falling into the trap of giving up on one story in an attempt to pursue something new? And how can we stop ourselves from doing the same thing with the next story? And the next one? And the one after that?

Having too many ideas might sound like a good problem to have, but it can be paralyzing.