how I won NaNoWriMo in eight days (and hit 67K words in twelve)

NaNoWriMo 2018 Participant Flair

A few hours before NaNoWriMo began, I messaged one of my best friends because I was genuinely freaking out about writing my novel, The Darkness is Past.  I’d thought about it for so long that I was worried that I’d mess it up.  She responded with a reminder of one of my favorite writing quotes.

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” -Shannon Hale

And it must have helped because I wrote like mad and won NaNoWriMo on day eight.  And I finished my novel of 67,009 words on day twelve.  I’d love to tell you that there’s a magic formula that you can follow exactly and you will definitely do as well (or better) than I. (And I know of at least two people who won in the first two days, so yeah.)  But all I can give you is some tips, what worked for me, etc.  Maybe it’ll help you – I don’t know.  Just do what works for you, honestly.

// PRAYER //

Image result for quotes praying about little things

I know prayer isn’t everyone’s thing, but it honestly helped me so much.  I prayed before I started writing The Darkness is Past and I prayed off and on throughout the writing process.  I want to use all my writing – but especially this story – to bring glory to God and to point people to Christ.  So it’s only natural that prayer is a part of my process.


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I can’t say enough good about NaNoWriMo’s virtual write-ins.  I even hosted one myself!  I’ve participated in only two so far, but they are incredible when it comes to getting the words out.  I especially love the prompts (I’ve used every one I’ve been given) because they force me to think outside the box and lead to more interesting, inventive writing.  I would also recommend this list of great writing prompts and highly recommend that you include a cameo of the great Stan Lee in your NaNo novel this year because he passed away today and it’s a rather epic idea (IMO). (I put in three cameos so that, hopefully, one should survive the editing process.)


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I love my story.  It’s a dystopian retelling of the life of the Apostle Paul and I LOVE it.  At the risk of sounding prideful, I love the twist I’ve given such an inspiring, iconic story.  And I love my characters even if they’re only in rough form right now and I don’t understand them as well as I’d like to.  And because I love my story/characters, I loved writing The Darkness is Past.


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I hope I’m not being arrogant or anything when I say I’m a fast writer – it’s just true.  I once wrote 5K words in eighty minutes (two Psych episodes) and it was glorious.  So squeezing 67K words into twelve days – while slightly crazy – wasn’t all that hard for me, believe it or not.  It was actually fun.


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I help homeschool my little brothers, I have a freelance writing job, and also household chores but I also have gobs and gobs of free time.  Which obviously helps a huge amount.  But on one of my wordiest days – 10K – I wrote off and on in little bits and participated in church ministry and I still got the words in because I literally couldn’t stop writing.  The words tumbled out of me so quickly.


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I watched the new Pureflix movie ‘Paul: Apostle of Christ’ while I was in the middle of my novel and I think it gave me an extra boost of inspiration.  It wasn’t a perfect film (didn’t love it like I love ‘Risen’) but I did really, really like it.  The ending made me cry.  A lot.  Paul has become really special to me through this process and I just…it’s emotional.  And I also had my Spotify playlist which kept me going and going and going.


Image result for planning writing quotes agatha christie

I had my plot planned out (and it changed very little) which meant that I almost never had to wonder what I was going to write next.  That was very freeing, especially because I’ve never outlined so much and NaNoWriMo has always been a bit of a struggle for me, knowing how to keep writing plot stuff.  But even with the planning, there were moments of spontaneity.  One character took on a much larger role, there was an unexpected partnership, other characters cropped up before I meant them to, and so on.  And when my story started getting boring, I participated in a virtual write-in and found one of the prompts super helpful.  I’ll just say that, um, fire tends to make things wayyyy more interesting.

Sooooo…how’s your NaNoWriMo going?  Did you find any of these tips helpful?  Let me know in the comments!


16 thoughts on “how I won NaNoWriMo in eight days (and hit 67K words in twelve)

  1. Isn’t overachieving fun?
    Winning NaNoWriMo in 8 days is impressive. Nice work.
    I’ve been so busy with NaNoWriMo myself that I’m falling behind on pretty much every blog I follow. Now it’s finally time to start catching up.


      1. Yeah, I’ve visited those millionaire threads. I don’t understand how anyone could write that many words and have even a quarter of it readable.


  2. Wow, that’s amazing! Good for you!
    That’s awesome you’re so excited for your story- isn’t that a great feeling? And you have a good reason to be- your book sounds soo cool!


  3. Yaaaay! * waves banners and breaks out the confetti * Congratulations! I’m so happy for you!!!

    NaNoWriMo hasn’t gone too well for me so far…But sometimes it’s just not going to be the year for you! That’s OK, I won’t give up on writing, and this month my family resolved certain real life problems that were troubling us.

    I love all the quotes in this post! The tips are really useful too! I used to think it was too bad that I couldn’t attend a real life write-in, but a virtual one just might be the solution! 😀

    The story you wrote sounds amazing! I don’t think you sound prideful, just enthusiastic! The story of the Apostile Paul tends be slightly overlooked I think, in favor or portrayals, on both page and screen, of the birth of Christ, or the Cruxifiction. There are plenty of fairy or folktale retellings with a science fiction or dystopian settings. Not that this is a bad thing, but I think your story promises to be really unique and refreshing! I can hardly wait to read it!


    1. Thank you!

      Last year I did pretty poorly at NaNoWriMo because of life stuff (and because I wasn’t completely gung-ho about my story, but that’s another thing altogether). Life happens and the that’s perfectly fine. 🙂

      You should definitely give virtual write-ins a try! In fact, I’d be happy to set one up one day this November if our schedules agreed.

      And I can’t wait to show it to you (and everyone else). 🙂 Really excited to see where revisions take me.


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