5 SIMPLE tools and mindsets to skyrocket NaNoWriMo

Do your knees tremble with anticipation? Are your hands shaky because of the challenge ahead? Is self-doubt starting to show its ugly face? Or is the excitement rising as you finish the last preparations?

Normal people just call it “November”.
But for us writers, it’s NaNoWriMo.

Preparation is key for this 50.000 words challenge. But what kind of preparation? More tools? More books on writing? More ideas and tips? Maybe. But maybe not.

Maybe those 5 simple tools and corresponding mindsets are all you need to embark on this sprint towards a beautiful storytelling journey.

At least this is what I found after years of writing – there is power in simplicity. As soon as I reduced my writing process to those simple 5, I realized that this was all I needed.

The tools are practical. But don’t underestimate the mindsets. They are also key, even more so than the tools.

With the right mindset and the supporting tools, you will be ready to skyrocket NaNoWriMo and make November your favorite month of the year.


Tool: Notebook

Alternative: Board

There are many techniques for outlining, but to whether you are an outliner or a pantser, my biggest tip for you is:
Know where you are going, and always have the big picture in front of you. No matter how deep you want to go into detail here, do not start the journey without a compass and a clear story goal.

The simplest tool for this is a notebook – preferably bigger than A4 – where you can plot out the big picture.

There are also alternatives like a giant board or cards you can position on your table. No matter how fancy you want to make it – make sure you have at least some plot points and the final goal in front of you before you start writing.

This way, every time you sit down to write a scene and are at a loss, your compass and your goal will guide you.


Mindset: The ultimate answer to your WHY

The same goes for your mindset: Know WHY you are starting NaNoWriMo in the first place.

An answer like “I want to write my novel” is simply not enough because it misses the big picture. Writing your novel is just a tiny step in the journey, but where is your journey going?

Do you want to make a living writing? Have more freedom? Share your stories with the world, inspire, create? Have a community?

Whatever the reason, know what role NaNoWriMo is playing in the big picture. More often than not, it’s a milestone for authors. If you know how this challenge is related to your big WHY, you will stand the ground when it gets hard to pull through.



Tool: Scrivener

Alternative: iA Writer/Ulysses

I love Scrivener because it allows me to bring my writing project to one single place: Research, Plotting, Characterization, Cards, Images, basically anything. There are countless great tools in Scrivener that help me prepare for the writing stage, and beyond.

For those who prefer simplicity, I also discovered iA Writer – a simple and clean writing tool.
Ulysses is also something other authors recommend, but I haven’t had the chance to try it out yet.

But why do you need a writing tool? Why don’t just write in Word?


Mindset: Commitment

You could easily write in WORD.

But what I’ve found when buying a slightly more expensive writing program is that it signalizes real commitment. I’ve spent money and I am taking my writing business seriously now.

WORD is for everybody. But the extensive and special writing tools are only for those who are ready to take it to the next level – for the writers.



Tool: Wordly

Wordly is an app I came to love while writing my first novel! It transforms the challenge of writing faster into a sport, measuring you WPH (words per hour) as if you were an athlete.

Wordly allows you to create writing projects and track the word count. It displays data per day, duration and WPH, shows you total stats of your writing and even graphs of progress.

The simple and clean design takes the writing fun to a next level, especially with a challenge like NaNoWriMo where you need to hit a word count.


Mindset: Challenge

Especially with writing the first draft, a challenge is a mindset that will motivate you throughout the long writing hours.

Sports is fun because of the competition, even if the only person you are trying to beat is yourself. If you adopt the mindset of an athlete for the first draft, and especially for NaNoWriMo, you will be able to accomplish the sprint of November.



Mindset: Focus

Our mind is bombarded by the distractions of the modern world. We have forgotten how to focus, and instead, are juggling our focus between several tasks that are competing for our attention.

This will never produce real results. You need to train your mind how to focus again, and this can be learned.

Tool: Pomodoro Timer

A great tool to learn focus again is the Pomodoro Timer. It lets you choose intervals of work and break, forcing you to work for a limited amount of time.

Don’t start with an hour, but instead, split your hour into:
15 mins work – 5 mins break – 15 mins work – 5 mins break – 15 mins work – 10 minutes big break
(I know it’s a little more than one hour 😉 )

15 mins is a great timeframe to start with. Try to move the concentration up until 30 mins. During this time, shut off the phone and any other distraction and make sure all you do it dedicated, focused writing.


Mindset: Inspiration

Inspiration will never drop from the sky. The muse will not magically materialize in you room and kiss you. You will have to chase it, create an atmosphere that will prompt and inspire you.

There are countless tools for inspiration, but the mindset is: Look actively for it.

Do your research – it can work wonders for your writing and your ideas! Watch the movies that are close to your story, TV series, read scripts and book, historical and scientific research, and – listen to music.

Tool: Spotify Playlist

Alternative: Amazon Music/Apple Music or Nature Sounds

Create a playlist especially for NaNoWriMo. It will take you a little time, especially because it needs to be a longer than 3-4 songs.

I recommend listening to soundtracks or instrumental music as words tend to be distracting. But you can choose whatever you prefer. Soundtracks set the mood for writing – I suddenly begin to see the story in front of me as if it were a movie.

Music produces a flow of writing. It touches the heart and helps deepen the words. I try to write so that my readers can nearly hear the music and feel the emotion I am feeling right now. And the music is what inspires me to do so.

Are you ready for NaNoWriMo?

Don’t look for the next big tool. Instead, adopt the mindset of a writer. Maybe this is your very first long writing project. Maybe you’ve failed last year to accomplish your goal.

Leave everything behind now, take those simple 5 and start writing. Nothing is missing, and you are a writer – skyrocket this month that might change your writing life!more

Let me know how you are doing if this article was helpful and let’s chat about NaNoWriMo.


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