Saturday, November 2, 2019

3 Things Every Writer Can Learn From NaNoWriMo

by Tim Suddeth @TimSuddeth

It’s the second day of November. For all our readers who are participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I wish you good luck and hope you have many great ideas. Remember you have the whole month. It’s okay if everything doesn’t go exactly as planned. I mean, when has it ever gone as planned?

But I imagine many, if not most, do not have writing a novel as a goal. I suspect that most of us stick to writing shorter works; devotions, articles, bible studies, etc. Good for you. Writing a novel is hard, it takes time, and it’s hard to wrap your arms around it when you’re revising.

Since you aren’t trying to write 50,000 words, NaNoWriMo doesn’t hold much interest for you. Why should you struggle to write 1666 words a day for a month?

I agree, NaNoWriMo may not be your cup of tea (or coffee as the case may be). But that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn some lessons from it to use with our works. There are several tips we can take from it.

How To Use The Benefits Of NaNoWriMo No Matter What You Write

1. Social
I got an email from the library last week about the different events it is having for NANOWRIMO, including workshops and write-ins. I see several benefits to getting involved in these.

Now, I’m not talking about a critique group here, although that is fine and I have been helped by being a member of a couple of them. I’m suggesting going somewhere to write. It’s amazing how changing environments can spur your creativity and bring new ideas.

First, sometimes writing in a different place can give you a boost. I’ve heard this advice a lot when I’ve been stuck in my writing. Going to a new place gives you a new energy. And if you usually write at home, it gets you away from those nagging distractions like laundry, the fridge, children, or a pet who either demands getting in your lap or on your laptop.

The second benefit is it gets you out of your hermit cave and out with other writers. There’s something about being with other writers that encourages and inspires us. No matter where on the writing spectrum you are, you both will benefit.

When the days become shorter, it’s easy to cocoon over your laptop and forget about going out. (I like writing in my old pjs.) Over time, this isn’t good for our health, emotional or physical. Make time to get out with writers who can encourage you and share that same passion that drives you.

2. Creativity
Many writers participate in NANOWRIMO so they can write outside of their normal genre. It may just be a one-time thing, or they may find that they prefer it. One good thing about writing shorter pieces is that it doesn’t take so much time to complete a piece.

I would suggest writing in a field that you like to read. Devotions, articles, flash fiction, scripts, genealogies, even comic strips or graphic novels, the list is endless. If you see that you enjoy it, you can then learn more about it. 

This also works when you try another art form. A writer needs to always be looking at the world and finding new ways so that she can bring more of life into her stories. I know, as a nonfiction writer, I am always looking for new illustrations. When you compose a nature seen like an artist composes a picture, or you look at the different effects light brings to a nature scene, this helps you see your scenes from a different perspective.

3. Fun 
A friend of mine, Lynette Eason, has recently taken up photography. (You can to see some of her pictures by following her on Facebook.) She is also the author of a gazillion books. She said a big reason that she is doing the photography is that it’s fun.

And that’s why most people do NANOWRIMO, because they find it fun. Again, writing 50,000 words in a month may not be your idea of fun. I get that. So, what is?

Life is hard enough. And writing, with its solitude and opportunities for rejection, can be a direct road to depression. So, why not search out ways to have some fun? You don’t have to dedicate a whole month to it. Just give it a couple of tries.

Who knows, it might lead you to a whole host of new ideas.

So, tell me. What have you tried recently?


Tim Suddeth is a stay-at-home dad and butler for his wonderful, adult son with autism. He has written numerous blogs posts, short stories, and three novels waiting for publication. He is a frequent attendee at writers’ conferences, including the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and a member of Word Weavers and ACFW. He lives near Greenville, SC where he shares a house with a bossy Shorky and three too-curious Persians. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, or at


  1. Thanks for the encouraging words, Tim. November is not a month for me to write a novel, but I like the above ideas applied in a normal way. Lol

  2. Thank you, Tim, for making these points. You're right, as a non-fiction writer, I tend to breeze on by Nanowrimo, thinking it has nothing to offer. Now I'll think again.