How to write a massive amount of words in the last 10 days of Nanowrimo

Watch the best of these tips – then scroll to the bottom to read the CRAZIEST thing I’ve ever done to win Nanowrimo.

There are only 10 days left in Nanowrimo! The pressure is on, especially for those of you who have fallen behind.

I’m here to tell you that there’s still hope, even if you’re behind. Even if you’ve barely started.  I’ve written 50,000 words in three days before, and you have a whole ten days left! You can get there–or at least give your novel a final massive push towards completion. Today I’m going to show you the best tips and tricks I’ve used to achieve massive word counts, ranging from the simple and practical to the completely deranged.

But first, a note about “failure”

In this article I’m exploring all the ways to push out a massive word count because that kind of challenge is good for some people. Some people want to–and can–write 25,000 or 30,000 or even 50,000 in ten days. Some want to hit those word counts in even less time. This article is designed to help those people.

You don’t have to write a massive amount of words. You don’t have to hit 50K in ten days or even in the whole month. And you shouldn’t feel bad about slowing your pace to protect your physical or mental health. Your path to success is valid. The only way to truly fail is to stop writing.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get into it!

How to write a massive amount of words in the last 10 days of Nanowrimo

Photo by Patrick Fore
Photo by Patrick Fore

These tips range from the practical to the insane, but they all have one thing in common: they’re proven methods I’ve used to write insane amounts of words. How much mileage you’ll get out of them depends on your typing speed and other factors, like how much of a life you have, but if you employ even one of these tips I guarantee you’ll get at least a few more words.

1. Take public transit EVERYWHERE for a week

You’ve probably heard at least a dozen Nanowrimo veterans praising the power of their morning commute via transit. They all say the same thing: if you’re taking transit, use the time to write!

As always, I’d like to take this a step further: force yourself to take transit and turn your commute into writing time. Take transit to places other than work, too. If it’s possible to take transit, do it. You may only get a few sentences in during each journey, but those sentences will add up if you’re taking transit 10+ times in the next 10 days.

2. Participate in word crawls

Confession time: I haven’t actually done one of these, but the concept is so cool that I had to share it. Word crawls are adventure games that force you to write if you want to push the story forward. They’re usually based on an already popular story, like this Harry Potter Word Crawl.

Word crawls are a great way to keep yourself engaged when you hate your novel, especially if you’re not into the competitive side of word wars.

3. Petition a Nano buddy for help – or competition

The Nanowrimo community is here to help you, and you still have time to find a Nano buddy (or several) who will become your biggest cheerleader–there’s time right up until the 30th. Choosing another Nanowrimo participant as your main cheerleader also means you can cheer them on, and you can celebrate milestones together.

On the other side of the coin, competition can be an incredible motivator. It’s what spurred me to write 300,000 words in a single Nanowrimo, and what’s pushed my lifetime word count achievement to 1.35 million. And it’s easy to create. You don’t even need the other person to agree. You can simply watch their word count bar on their profile and try to match or beat it. Of course, it is more fun if you can get the other person in on it. Friendly trash talking often serves as excellent motivation.

4. Develop short forms of words

This tip is most useful when you’re writing by hand, but it can be helpful when you’re typing too. Are the made up words in your fantasy or science fiction world extremely long? Create 2-3 letter short forms for them. You can easily find and replace all instances of this short form during editing, and it will give you time to write more, shorter words.

If you’re writing by hand and you plan to type things up later, take this a step further by creating your own acronyms. For example, if I was writing a Nanowrimo project in the same world as Moonshadow’s Guardian (the book I’m editing now), I might call the Temple of Ashe simply “ToA”. That lets me get to the next point faster, and when I type it up I gain extra words by typing out the full name.

The best part is that you can turn anything into an acronym. Take half an hour to brainstorm acronyms that work for your novel and you’ll be surprised by the number of different ideas you come up with. You might even like a few enough to keep them in the novel!

5. Forget about contractions

Contractions are great, but not during Nano! At least not when you’re trying to push out an insane amount of words in the final 10 days. Forget about those suckers altogether and watch your word count soar.

6. Stop using names

This might well be the silliest trick I’ve ever used to maintain my writing flow and maximize my word count. At some point during my 300,000 word year I completely forgot the names of several side characters. Instead of looking them up, I called them things like “the high priestess whose name Marla could never remember”. That’s nine words instead of one!

Doing this with even one character will massively increase your word count. Want to take it a step further? Stop using names altogether and describe everyone by their physical appearance, personality traits, or titles. For example, the high priestess above could become “the elderly priestess with the pitch black eyes”. That’s not quite as many words–eight instead of nine–but it will still add a significant amount to your word count.

7. Add random characters for the sole purpose of killing them off, preferably slowly

All right, maybe this is the silliest thing I’ve ever done–and I used to do a lot of it. I even carefully researched the slowest ways for my characters to die so I could maximize my word count.

This works best if you’re already telling a multiple POV story. Then you can contrive a reason to jump into the dying character’s head, and write their stream-of-consciousness thoughts as they die. Write out their whole life flashing before their eyes–and then return to your regular POV and let your main characters watch this new, random character die.

8. Write a letter summarizing everything that happened during the novel

Nevermind, this is DEFINITELY the silliest thing I’ve ever done to win Nanowrimo. In my first year, I ran out of story at around 45,000 words and with only a few days left to go. Without a new story in mind, I was stuck for days.

Then I decided to write a letter from my main character to a long lost relative. This letter spanned the full 5,000 words I needed to win, and detailed every plot point from my actual story. It was cheesy, tacky even, but it got me to 50,000 words–and my first completed manuscript, however awful.

What crazy things have you done to reach insane word counts? Let me know all about them in the comments section below!