Using NaNoWriMo for Non-Fiction: 7 Tips

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that National Novel Writing Month (also known as November) is something I enjoy. I’ve done it for the past several years now, using it to try my hand at writing contemporary fantasy.

Most of my writing clients, though, write non-fiction. “If you’re not writing an actual novel,” they wonder, “can you still do NaNoWriMo?”

While NaNoWriMo is focused on fiction and its particular challenges – like character development and world-building – the container that it create can indeed be used for other genres of writing.

Here are seven tips on how to use the community momentum of NaNoWriMo to propel your book or other writing projects forward:

  1. The magick of NaNoWriMo lies in the word count goal. Use some kind of software that has a word count function. This month, it’s all about the words and getting them onto the page. Make it easier for yourself by letting the robots tally them up for you.
  2. Enlist your family’s help for the month. Get some extra support with chores and social obligations. Here’s a handy video you can share with your peeps.
  3. Try a new writing technique, like timed writing – the Pomodoro method works well, as do word sprints. Or try some channeling. Perhaps write via voice memo or longhand (though you’ll need to transcribe them so you can get your word count in!).
  4. Don’t edit what you’ve written. At all. Not this month!
  5. Have a fresh brainstorming session to generate plenty of ideas to write about. Even if you’ve done this before, or have a working outline, take this opportunity to load in some new anecdotes, client stories, examples, or techniques to share.
  6. Infuse your book draft with some fiction-style writing. Add some dialogue, describe a place or situation, or flesh out a character who figures in your book (it might even be you!).
  7. Participate in some of the virtual happenings during the month – revel in the extra camaraderie and accountability. Make some new writer friends. No one is going to reject you because your book project is a different genre. The NaNoWriMo crowd is very supportive and encouraging.

If you’re wondering whether or not to jump into NaNoWriMo this November, I say go for it! Even if you don’t complete the goal, you’ll most likely write more than you would have otherwise. And it’s super fun!

Want more writing tips and ideas? Sign up for my email list over here and join a community of Thriving Artists.

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