Your Quintessential NaNoWriMo Prep Guide (Freebies Galore!)

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What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It begins every year on November 1. Participants have 30 days to write a 50,000-word novel. It comes out to 1,667 words a day.

How do I participate?

Simply head to NaNoWriMo.org, click the Sign Up button, and fill out your profile. Once you’ve set up your profile, you can announce your novel, add buddies, and start prepping your book.

Is it free?

It’s free. In fact, NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit. You can always donate to their organization if you’d like.

Are there any local events for NaNoWriMo?

Although people all over the world participate in NaNoWriMo, you can go to their Regions page, find your specific region, and see if there are any Come Write-Ins available.

For example, the Yukon Writers’ Society in Oklahoma has four official Come Write-Ins. NaNoWriMo sends us official swag and signs so people know where to go.

How do I win NaNoWriMo?

You have to reach your goal of 50,000 words by November 30. To receive your official certificate and get the winner badge on your profile, you have to send in your manuscript so they can verify your word count. Here’s their how-to guide.


Download Free Novel Binder Printables

Got a binder handy? Fill it with these beautiful printables and add the necessary information.

Here's what you'll get when you download the free PDF:

  1. Binder title page with name plate

  2. At a Glance — overview of your novel

  3. Word Count Tracker

  4. Character List

  5. The Protagonist — two pages for a character sketch

  6. The Antagonist — two pages for a character sketch

  7. To-Do List

  8. Novel Research

  9. Story Outline — three pages detailing the four parts of a novel


Open a Book (or Two or Three):

The Emotion Thesaurus

Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

Pep Talks for Writers

Grant Faulkner

Ready. Set. Novel!

Lindsey Grant

No Plot? No Problem!

Chris Baty

Write Your Novel from the Middle

James Scott Bell

Your First Novel

Ann Rittenberg & Laura Whitcomb


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NaNo To-Do List:

  1. Set up your NaNoWriMo account.

  2. Fill out author bio and add profile photo.

  3. Announce your novel.

  4. Add buddies. (Add me too!)

  5. Find your region and see if there are any local Come Write-Ins.

  6. Print Shayla’s free novel binder templates and prepare your binder. (Scroll back up!)

  7. Consider donating to NaNoWriMo.

  8. Tell your social media friends about NaNoWriMo. Tag NaNoWriMo and use hashtags.

  9. Dust off your writing space and add inspirational NaNo swag. Or make your own!

  10. Print the Word Count Calendar (scroll down!) and hang it up by your writing space.

  11. Create a NaNo playlist. Sometimes I love using rainwater to drown out noises.

  12. Tell your family/friends/neighbors/pets you are writing for X amount of minutes/hours each day. Be proactive in stopping distractions.

  13. Draw pictures of your characters or Google pictures of what you think they’d look like. You can add them to your NaNo board (scroll down!)

  14. Make a NaNo board. This is my favorite part! Get a corkboard or dry erase board and display your outline, character photos, book cover sketches, inspirational quotes—anything that has to do with your book. Or better yet: start a Pinterest board.

  15. Look at book covers. Don’t steal someone else’s book cover, but find ones that you believe would represent your book well. Maybe refer to them when NaNo hits. Add to your NaNo board!

  16. Make a reward sheet. When you hit 10,000 words, you should get a reward—like a Netflix binge or cheesecake (or bring them together for a beautiful marriage of all that is right in this world). Write a list of rewards that go with each big number you hit. It’ll come in handy, believe me.

  17. Prepare the manuscript. This is actually really fun and can make you feel like a bona fide novelist. Write your title, table of contents (if you have one), acknowledgments, prologue, and so on. Get the novel looking fancy!

  18. Find your accountability buddy now. Get together with him and discuss your book and listen to what he has to say about his own. When NaNoWriMo hits and you’re feeling stuck, you can text your NaNo buddy for instant support—or a kick in the pants, whichever.

  19. Get our your calendar and add official Come Write-Ins to your schedule if you found any (#5).

  20. Get all the coffee.


Use the Word Count Calendar:

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Download Writer’s Block Emergency Kit:


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An expert editor, seasoned writer, and author-centric marketer, Shayla Raquel works one-on-one with authors and business owners every day. A lifelong lover of books, she has edited over 300 books and has launched several Amazon bestsellers for her clients. Her award-winning blog teaches new and established authors how to write, publish, and market their books. She is the author of the Pre-Publishing Checklist, The Rotting (in Shivers in the Night), and The Suicide Tree. In her not-so-free time, she acts as organizer for the Yukon Writers’ Society, volunteers at the Oklahoma County Jail, and obsesses over squirrels. She lives in Oklahoma with her two dogs, Chanel and Wednesday.