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Using NaNoWriMo to Get Over Creative Writing Fear

Updated on May 16, 2015
Photo taken by: Steven Depolo
Photo taken by: Steven Depolo | Source

Every month in November there is a race to build a novel. Many writers enter this competition with the hope to win. The great thing about this contest is that each writer is challenging themselves. This challenge is called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The reason writers challenge themselves to NaNoWriMo is to help overcome the two main fears of building a book.

Types of Fear


People fearing quality believe their writing will not measure up. Perhaps grammatical structure or prose problems will disengage the readers. Many times, these writers will re-write the same sentence over and over again. NaNoWriMo is about getting an okay paragraph instead of a perfect sentence. When writing, having more to edit is always better than having nothing at all. NaNoWriMo helps establish this.


An interesting fear with writing is that not enough quantity will be achieved. Perhaps a person believes their story can be told quickly. Perhaps that person is too direct with their writing. NaNoWriMo forces a word count, requiring the writer to write more than they normal. Again, NaNoWriMo is about getting more to edit in the end. Having more to edit is better than having nothing at all.

Methods to help NaNoWriMo contestants

Speech to text

One great method for NaNoWriMo is to have a speech to text program. These programs allow a faster word count then many people can type. Furthermore, speaking activates a different area in the brain, which can spark new ideas. The more ideas, the better, when trying to hit the 50,000-word count required by NaNoWriMo. The trick with finding the proper speech to text program is in the accuracy. The better the accuracy of the program, the more likely that you will be able to understand your writing later on.

Partial Outlines

Another important aspect to help ensure end quality is to build partial outlines. Not every little detail needs to be decided. Instead, having something to work from will help spark new ideas. The hope here is to hit the major plot points without starting too many new promises. Yet, new promises can always be edited out later. These new ideas may help spark the next partial outlines. These outlines can be done in advance or the day of, depending on what kind of author you are.

Break into sections

An excellent method for NaNoWriMo is to break the novel into sections using Scrivener or a similar program. By breaking into parts, an author can then build a “spider web” between these different sections. Manipulating this web helps ensure quality when the NaNoWriMo competition finishes. By building these connections between sections, irrelevant content can be improved or removed. Scrivener is a staple among writing enthusiasts for good reason.

The following image shows a free speech to text program that can be added into Chrome. I am also using the Hemingway app to make the writing better. (This online, free app makes each thing I write easier to read by reducing passive sentences and removing extra words)

Photo taken by: Me
Photo taken by: Me

The image below shows how Scrivener can break text into different chunks. This program can do a lot of different things with tags and links. (I have yet to scratch the surface of this program!)

Photo taken by: me
Photo taken by: me

Have some tools to share? Some techniques to help combat creative writing fear? Feel free to comment below!

Check out my Paperbackward fiction books on my website. I wrote them after I gained courage during NaNoWriMo! (Zombies versus Dinosaurs = Cool, IMHO)

Do you use Scrivener in NaNoWriMo?

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    • daxamite profile image

      James Livingood 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Thank you Eddy and Jodah. Hopefully I can continue to add great content to this hub.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Interesting hub. Thanks for the info about NaNoWriMo.....I had never heard of it until about a month ago. Now everyone seems to be talking about it.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      A great hub which is interesting and inspiring. Voted up for sure.


    • daxamite profile image

      James Livingood 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Thank you! Hopefully this article helps! When I get some more time I would like to expand the word count.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Well done Dax!