How I Won NaNoWriMo 2020 in 9 Days

My motivation to win on a passion project and set a new personal record

Image for post
Image for post
Courtesy of

No, I’m not kidding. You can count my words over on Wattpad if you really want. I posted the rough draft as I wrote it.

There’s a method behind my madness — I promise it’s not just madness. 2020 marked the second time in three years that I’ve participated while being able to write full time. The first time was when I discovered the writing challenge in 2018. I front-loaded all of my grad school work and finished that before the month started which gave me the freedom to only worry about writing and a full-time job. This year I have the ability to write every day with only minor distractions like house hunting and a puppy.

Here is a breakdown of my word count:

  1. 10,418 — it’s a Sunday. What else am I gonna do? My most daily words came in 2018 with 18K. I doubt I’ll ever get that close again.
  2. 6,776 — I was actually disappointed despite my goal of writing 5K+ a day.
  3. 7,727 — a more respectable number.
  4. 7,208 — some chapters just don’t hit the same.
  5. 2,740 — woof. This was day 1 of a migraine.
  6. 5,086 — another migraine, but I drugged myself up at about 4:30AM and had a moment of clarity. I pushed myself in the first few hours knowing I’d crash later.
  7. 6 — yeah, I wrote just a single sentence. We were house hunting all morning and I came home emotionally exhausted. But I believe in streaks so I wrote my sentence.
  8. 3,379 — I was so distracted all day worried about the offer we made on a house… we didn’t get it.
  9. 7,255 — Finish line! I actually allowed myself to get distracted in the morning, declaring I’d cross the 50K mark on my book release day for a different series. I’m all about combining celebrations, but when I was just 866 words short at 9PM, I couldn’t let it go to waste. I wrote another chapter.

On a side note, my previous record was writing my 50K in 10 days.

You can check out these five strategies that helped me keep my word count high this month.

Beyond my ability to write full time, a lot of planning went into this novel. I wanted to start with a new project on November 1 so when I finished my previous project in early October, I spent the rest of the month planning and prepping for this book. I had the entire first half of the book planned by the time Sunday hit and I could start writing.

The other amazing piece of this project was that I was incredibly motivated. I had a very clear purpose going into this book. For the first time this year, I wrote a project for the absolute joy of it. My why was to have fun and write something just because I wanted to. It fit into a series but didn’t have to be perfect. I let myself get wrapped up in storytelling without fear of getting something wrong.

It was pure excitement. This was a passion project.

Every single day was a joy to write. I didn’t dread any of my chapters. I didn’t walk away feeling like my time was wasted. Was it perfect? No, but that didn’t matter.

Even better, my book isn’t done yet. I write until the story is complete, no matter how many words that gets me. So, after I write this article, I’m going back to my project. I’ll see it through a second finish line and write ‘The End’ on another novel.

If you’re participating in NaNo this year, let me know how it’s going for you! Newbie or veteran, I’m so excited to be joining you in the fun. Feel free to add me as a buddy on the NaNo site.

I’m sharing my NaNo novel rough draft as I write it! You can read it for free on Wattpad. Leave a comment and vote for my story to tell me what you think!

Laura Winter is the author of the Soul Series and Warrior Series in addition to several short stories and standalones. You can find all her relevant links here.

Written by

Creator. Writer. Author. Join my tribe and learn about my fiction writing plus free stories.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store