20 Tips to help You Write a Novel in 30 Days AKA How To Win the NaNoWriMo Challenge | Susan Palmquist | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

20 Tips to help You Write a Novel in 30 Days AKA How To Win the NaNoWriMo Challenge

teacher avatar Susan Palmquist, Author, Dream Inspirer and Writing Guru

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

22 Lessons (29m)
    • 1. Take the Write a Novel in 30 Days Challenge

    • 2. Tip 1

    • 3. Tip 2

    • 4. Tip 3

    • 5. Tip 4

    • 6. Tip 5

    • 7. Tip 6

    • 8. Tip 7

    • 9. Tip 8

    • 10. Tip 9

    • 11. Tip 10

    • 12. Tip 11

    • 13. Tip 12

    • 14. Tip 13

    • 15. Tip 14

    • 16. Tip 15

    • 17. Tip 16

    • 18. Tip 17

    • 19. Tip 18

    • 20. Tip 19

    • 21. Tip 20

    • 22. Conclusion and Thank You

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class


Have you ever dreamed about writing a novel? Have you thought about taking part in NaNoWriMo?

Maybe you've already started your story or take the challenge and given up half way through your story or month.

My name's Susan Palmquist and I'm the author of 100 books but I wasn't always a productive writer. I've learned easy ways to stay with your goal and turn yourself into a writer who can easily manage a book a month. Since 2008, I've been teaching and tutoring aspiring writers and nothing is more rewarding than seeing someone take that first step to getting published.

Enroll now and learn ways to get started and continue writing until you have that novel finished. Who knows you could write the next bestseller...

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Susan Palmquist

Author, Dream Inspirer and Writing Guru



I’m Susan Palmquist and for the last 20 years I’ve been an author, freelance writer, editor, blogger, teacher and tutor, (and before that I was a publicist).

It feels like I’ve squeezed a lot into two decades and it’s my tips and experience that I’ve learned along the way that I’m now happy to share with you here at Skillshare.

I’d like to show you how you too can write for fun or even for a living whether it be fiction or non-fiction.

Getting published wasn’t easy for me but I’m now the author, (under my own name and pen name Vanessa Devereaux), of 100 plus books and counting. There’s nothing I love more than helping others do the same thing.

I have my own coaching and critiquing business... See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Take the Write a Novel in 30 Days Challenge: has writing a novel Always been your dream? Have you ever thought about taking part in national novel writing, Man? Maybe have started writing a story but gave up halfway. Perhaps you took part in National novel writing Month, but quit mid y If so, you're not alone. Many people fall by the wayside for one reason or another. So that's why I decided to correct this class. Hi, my name. Susan Polk Quist On Under my real name and pen name. I've written 100 books that makes me sound like a very productive writer. But that wasn't always the case. Like many aspiring writers, I struggled to get my story written, but along the way I found simple tips to keep me focused. And for the last six years I've been teaching and tutoring aspiring writers on. There's nothing more rewarding than seeing someone take that first important step to getting a story written and completed. National novel Writing month is around the corner, and there's no better launching pad to getting a story written on. With that in mind, I've created 20 easy to follow insider tips to keep you focused till the very end, so enroll now and together we can take the first step to getting your story started and finished on. Who knows? You might correct the next best seller. 2. Tip 1: First of all, thank you so much for taking this class on. And congratulations on stepping up to the challenge. Let's start by looking at what you're trying to achieve. You're going to write 50,000 words in 30 days, which equals 1666 words per day. Broken down? That doesn't seem so daunting, does it? My first tip is to get you thinking about what type of writer you are. Know what type of stories you write, but how you approach the actual act of writing. Are you the sort of also, who can write every day? Or maybe you're someone who can only write when the muse strikes. That's the first step to deciding on your approach to this challenge. Maybe you could be a weekday writer or just a weekend only writer I know or schedules a different, and some people like to right when they say, like, get home from work each day or others like to kind of take a more casual approach and right just on the weekend. And some people can write a certain number of words in a weekend, while others need a whole week to reach that amount. So before the challenge starts, maybe sit down on DFID yer out. What works best for you on Remember, there's no rule that says you have to write 1666 words every day. You might be the person who writes 10,000 words every weekend, and you could still get to the same point. I'd suggest trying different combinations and see what works best for you. And please don't forget breaks. Some people need them, while others hate to stop until they done for the day. But it's another thing you need to decide before you actually start the challenge. That's it for this tip on dsi you in the next one. 3. Tip 2: welcome back, and we're a tip number two, which is to condition yourself. I like to think that writing a novel, especially if you're going to tackle writing one within 30 days, is a bit like running a marathon. No runner competing, one without adequate training and building up in endurance so they can cross that finish line. And I think it's writers. We need to do the same and take that same approach. Please don't wait till November 1st to start writing. I've had lots of people tell me that they've never written anything before they sit down on November 1st, things go. Okay, the second. Yes, they're going. OK, but third or fourth day, they just quit completely because they don't have the stamina to do it. So during the weeks leading up to it, probably mid October start to condition yourself with shorter writing sprints. Just like a runner would start with 250 words per day, then got to 500 so on. So when you go to start your writing on November 1st, you're in kind of peak condition and you know what you're doing and you're off to a great start. Okay, that's tip number to see you in the next tip. 4. Tip 3: hello and welcome back when now at tip number three, which is to make an appointment. And by that I mean you need to make an appointment with yourself. In order to get the writing down, I suggest setting aside a specific time to write each and every day. It makes what you're trying to achieve, a priority not only in your eyes but others, too. When you look at the clock each day, you know it's your writing. Time on that time slot is only for your writing and nothing else. That's tip number three, and I'll see you in tip number four. 5. Tip 4: Hi. I'm were at tip number four, which is to get comfy. I find sitting in the same spot each time I write actually makes me more productive. It took me many years to figure it out, but I came to the conclusion that every time I sat on the couch with my laptop, I was producing maybe 12 2000 words a day on at my desk. I was only producing maybe 500 at best. So my tip is to figure out before the challenge if you have a favorite place to write, which I think we all do on it could be on the couch with the laptop just like me. Maybe you prefer to sit at a desk or even with pen and paper sitting in bed before you go to sleep every night. Or maybe you prefer to do it when you wake up first thing in the morning. But figure that out before November 1st. Okay, that's it for tip number four on. I'll see you in the next tip 6. Tip 5: Hi and welcome back on. We're a tip number five, which is to think ahead. I know this sounds really strange, but actually some writers will use any excuse not to write. It's like I can't write because I have to go grocery shopping or I'm waiting for the repairman to fix my dishwasher. This is your time. So if chores need to be done, either get them done before you tackle novel or let someone else in your household take care of them. It's not being selfish. Everyone, I think, deserves to do something. They laugh on. Def. Writing is truly up your passion. I think others will understand that you need to have some spice coughed out just for you to get this project down. That's it for tip number five on. I'll see you in the next tip. 7. Tip 6: Hi and welcome back to tip number six, which is Tell it to the world. Most people are impressed when you tell them you're an author and many more actually in or of you when you mention you're going to write a book in just 30 days. So let people know what you're up to. I'm not why they'll know you're busy and focused on achieving that goal. Like your family and friends. No, you won't be answering the phone or getting back to them with e mails when you're in what I call the writing zone. And one time I even put a sign on my door that said Writer at work. So everyone knew not to disturb May. So whatever you have to do to get into your writing zone and let people know that you're there and you don't want to be disturbed, do that before November 1st and you'll be off to a great start. OK, that's it for tip number six and see you in tip number seven 8. Tip 7: Hi. I'm welcome back. And we're now at tip number seven, which is to stay off line. I suggest turning off your cell phone and the Internet. Remember what I said in the last tip? This is your time. You're in the writing zone on and you shouldn't have any distractions on. It really is easy to get distracted when you're answering emails, taking a break. And, yes, I've done it one too many times. I click on YouTube and I start watching something. Time slips away and I've hardly got any writing done. So my tip is to wait until you're done writing for the day to have your fun. Whether that is watching something on YouTube or calling a friend and chatting or maybe answering some emails. Wait till the writings done. Okay, that's it for chip number seven on. I'll see you in tip number eight. 9. Tip 8: Hello and welcome back to Tip number eight, which I've given the title off. Silence is golden because I actually know some writers who can only work when everything around them is silent, no noise at all, while others have to have music blaring, maybe even through the whole house. Some others like to write while they have the TV playing in the background. I actually like to write Teoh music that doesn't have any lyrics, so it doesn't interfere with kind of what's in my head. So my tip is to there again Makesem pre preparation and sit down and try all three working silence. Work with music, work with the TV playing and in the background as you write your story and see what make you the most productive. I guarantee one of them will so a zit get that all figured out before November 1st, and there again, you'll be off to a great start. Okay, that's it for tip number eight on or see you over in Tip number nine 10. Tip 9: welcome back, and we're at tip number nine, which is rewards. I think we all like getting rewarded for our efforts, and I think that's writers. We like to be rewarded for a day's writing, so reward yourself after each of your writing sprints, especially when you take on a challenge like this. Now I'm not suggesting that you are taking more calories during November or any time you're trying Teoh, right? A novel in 30 days. But maybe you've got flavor ice cream and you'll you'll lead a scoop of it after each day of writing. Or maybe it's just simply sitting watching your favorite TV show. However you reward yourself. Make sure you do it after every writing spring, and I think that that kind of spurs you on on it. It's not a LA hardship for you. Um, I think I think we all like some kind of ah reward after we've done something that that may be a bit of a challenge to us. And for some people, writing their first novel in 30 days is is just that. So that's tip number nine, and I'll see you at the halfway point in tip number 10 11. Tip 10 : high on here we are a tip number 10 the halfway point eso Thanks for sticking with May, and this tip is about other people's achievements. You know, sometimes having a mental or at least someone to look up to is just what it takes to get the job done. I used to think about all my favorite authors, and every time I used to sit down and write, and maybe I stopped half way. I think I can't possibly do this on I think back to the wonderful books of theirs I've read and the website side visited with authors pages telling me about their love of writing, and it kind of gave me the incentive to do it myself. You kind of want to be just like them. And if you don't get the writing done, you can't be like your favorite author. Your just continue to be a fan, So my tip is to kind of maybe visit your favorite authors website, read one of their books and think time one you know, previously they would just like me, a struggling writer on Look what they've achieved. I can do the same and I think that sometimes all you need to spur you on and get you writing and keep you on track. Okay, That's it for Chip number 10 on. I'll see you in tip number 11. 12. Tip 11: hi and welcome back to tip number 11 which is all about your inner critic. And believe me, we all have one. And especially when we begin writing, we have kind of Michael, a vicious in a critic on One thing you have to do when you're writing is to switch it off. I know it's tough, but you have to do it. And don't worry if you feel the right instinct at this point. Remember, this is a first draft you're trying to achieve, and you have absolutely every right to be awful. That's I still tell myself that even after 100 books, each time I sit down to write, I think Right, that's it. This this is the last book I'm going to write. This is terrible, but you have to put that out of your mind and just keep writing. The main thing is to get that story written. I have lots of students who I think they overthink things, and they asked lots of questions. What am I doing wrong? Blah, blah, blah on. My main advice is just sit down and write. So that's the advice I'm going to give you, especially during up the challenge of writing a book in a month. So that's tip number 11. Turn off the inner critic, and I'll see you over in tip number 12. 13. Tip 12: Hello and welcome back to tip number 12 which is Need I said, It's the dreaded synopsis, and I know lots of writers just fear that word. But one thing I highly recommend is having ah, Synopsys, or at least an outline of your story written before November 1st and have it by your side. Make notes of the overall plot, your characters, the conflict and the resolution. It doesn't have to be perfect, but just a kind of chapter by chapter breakdown. So it's something that if you do get kind of falling by the wayside, you can look at and I think, Well, this is where the story's going on. You just keep writing. I like to think of it as the road map that you're going to take during those 30 days. Basically, if you went on a long distance journey, you'd probably have ah, Matt or some kind of navigation system allowing you, Teoh follow along and see where you're going and a synopses or an outline is basically the same thing. So that's tip number 12 and I'll see you in tip number 13 14. Tip 13: Hello. I'm welcome to tip number 13 which is all about meeting your characters. This tip might have come about because I'm a big fan of character driven stories and I think, actually characters and more important in a story than plots. And I think sometimes people think that if they haven't got a strong enough plot, they kind of store with their writing. But sometimes it's because you haven't thought about your characters enough. So before you start writing and maybe mid October longer if you can get to know your characters and make notes about their likes, their dislikes, even former chart and maybe have things like the school friends were if they ever had a serious illness, if they've lost a parent, what they do for a living. One thing I do suggest and I tell my students, is all the time is pretend you're going to interview your character for ah profile. You're going to write a magazine article about them, get together a set of questions that you'd like to Austin on. Then you want to them as that character and believe me, it can open up a whole new way of thinking about the characters. And sometimes it even gives you an idea for the storyline, which is especially important when you're ah writing to such a strict schedule for this ah challenge. So tip number 13 is Get to know your characters way before you start to write, and I think it will make your writing a lot lot easier. OK, that's it for this tip on. I'll see you in tip number 14. 15. Tip 14: hello and welcome back. And we're at Tip Protein, which I've called delegate, and this sort of tied him with the other tip I gave about telling everyone what you're trying to achieve this month on. I think if someone knows that you're trying to achieve a goal, they're more willing to help you out. And I'm thinking that maybe you can ask someone to do the cooking for a whole month. I know it's a lot to ask, but I think people will be willing to help you out. And I know Thanksgiving falls in the month off November. So for writers in the U. S. I think that that could be a big issue. So if you're hosting Thanksgiving, maybe you could ask others to help out or bring some dishes, uh, help you with the cooking and maybe do Cem Mil. Planning ahead of time during the month of October makes a meals freeze. Um, and in that way, you can just bring them out the freezer, put them in the microwave, and you're good to go, and you can get back to your writing a lot quicker. Okay, that's it for tip 14 and I'll see you in tip number 15 16. Tip 15: Hello. I am welcome back to tip number 15 which is means with 3/4 of the way there on this one's all about no self editing. This is the number one mistake I made when I was starting out right, And then the following day I would simply go back and bring out the inner critic. I'd kind of I don't know why power all the stuff that I've done the day before because I didn't like it, and I ended up the week with probably a couple of lines to show for my efforts. So my tip is, don't self edit just right when you're in the challenge or you're trying to get a book written in 30 days. Just don't think about all this is wrong. That's wrong. Just right on another tip I've come up with. If you do need to change something and you think, Oh, I won't remember when I go back and do my second ate it, I simply put it in brackets beside it so I can easily find it When I when I go back through , for example, sometimes I want to change a character's name because I don't think it's quite right for the story, and I'll make a note change character's name from Peter to Pete. Or maybe I want to look up something and I'll put it in brackets and put it in bold print. So it's easily Teoh scene. And then, you know, once you're done, you simply just delete it on and it works out perfectly. So Tip number 15 be a writer. Don't be an editor at this point, okay? That's it for this one, and I'll see you in tip number 16. 17. Tip 16 : Hello. I'm welcome back, and we're now at tip number 16 which I've called. Pick yourself up. This happened to me the first time I took the challenge. I got a good start and then I don't know what happened, but I fell behind by maybe two or three gate, and I felt like, Oh, no point in continuing because there's no way that I can do this challenge this year, but that's not not the right attitude to take. I've done that since then, and I thought, No, I can I can make up for lost time and that's exactly what you can do. So if you do miss a day or you find yourself only writing, maybe 500 words a day, don't panic. And definitely, like I said, don't give up. Just make up for lost time. Maybe the following day you do maybe 2000 words. Or maybe at the weekend, when you have feel more relaxed, you have more time. You can do 4000 words like I said in the first tip. There's no rule to say that you have to do a certain amount of words each day. Everyone's different and you know life happens, and sometimes you do fall behind with certain things. But like I've said in the title of this tick, pick yourself up and continue writing. Okay, that's it for tip number 16 on. I'll see you in tip number 17. 18. Tip 17 : Hello. I'm welcome back. We're at Tip 17. No more problems scenes. And I call them the dreaded problem seen because every story seems tohave one, whether you're working on book number one or book number 101 is always some seen. That brings you to a screaming hold and you sit there and you think, How am I gonna work this out? The characters don't seem Teoh be working. They kind of come across this flat the door, Laugesen as snappy as maybe you hopeful on, That's a bird thing on any day. But during the challenge, it can really be a, um, Achilles heel for you. So I found that it's best to simply ah, skip ahead. Don't worry about it. For now. I've mentioned this a couple of times, but the challenge is all about just getting the story written. This is the first draft it could be all for It can have lots of problems scenes on Just skip ahead. Make a note that this is where you were having problems on. Then on your second draft, you can go back and address it on. Actually, it's sometimes easier to deal with a problem seeing on that second draft because the stories written on it fits together a little bit like a jigsaw puzzle. So don't let this side track your writing and keeping to your word count every day. Simply skip ahead and keep on writing. Okay, that's it for this tip, and I'll see you again in the next tip. 19. Tip 18: Hello and welcome to Tip number 18 which is all about pivotal scenes. Ah, what is a pivotal scene? Well, it's kind of like I like to think of. It is somewhat of a cliffhanger. You're in the middle of an important thing. Maybe one character's revealed something to another character on. Instead of having that character respond on that particular day of writing, I wait to the following day to continue with that scene and conclude it. I know a lot of people will probably disagree with me over that, but it really turned me into a productive writer until I discovered this trick. I usedto waste off my time going back, kind of trying to get into the groove, the mood of the scene again. And I found if I left it kind of hanging, it was a place to look forward to, a place to start, and it made the whole floor of my writing there much easier and faster, which I think is key when you're trying to write a novel in a month. So give that a try. Don't conclude a pivotal scene on one days writing. But wait till the next day to do it on. I think you'll find it really, really does help. So that's tip number 18 and I'll see you over in tip number 19. 20. Tip 19: hi and welcome to Tip number 19 which I've called October. I know. I've told you many times in these tips that you should start preparing for the challenge in October. Ah, now I know this is going to sound strange, but I think one thing you should do is actually start writing your story in October. I've done that twice and almost occasions. I've had the best success with the completing the challenge. I like to think that it's a bit like warming up your car's engine on a winter's day. It kind of makes the journey more comfortable, much smoother. I've actually had a couple of people tell me that they've kind of panicked on November. The first thing you know? No. Now I've got to stop writing this story. So I think if you do it ahead of time, maybe even mid October or even October 31st it kind of takes the pressure off you. I once the pressure's off you, I think you're much freer and happier with with what you're doing. So my suggestion is, try a try starting the story in October and see what happens. OK, that's it for this tip on. I'll see you in our final tip 21. Tip 20: hi and welcome back. And here we are at the final tip, and I've titled it more than one story. And why have I done that? Because I think there's no rule that says that you have to write 50,000 words and they have to be within the same story. I've done this a couple of times, and I've written two or maybe a bunch of short stories in that time. I like to think that the month of November is all about you becoming a productive writer on , and you don't have to write a novel. I don't think you do. I think that it's all about disciplining yourself, motivating yourself on getting to the point off, not writing to writing and something that you can continue on in December and the new year and way into the future. So even if you're you think, Oh, I can't write a novel, I haven't got a idea for a novel. I encourage you to still take this challenge this year or next year on, maybe write a couple of short stories, or at least get two or three stories started. I think that's the main thing. Once you get started. It kind of gives you confidence and and you'll continue. So don't always think. Oh, this has to be about novel writing. No, it doesn't. It's about writing and becoming a productive writer. So that's my final tip, Onda. Thank you very much. And I'll see you in our closing. Ah, video. Thank you. 22. Conclusion and Thank You: Hello and welcome to the wrap up video. So there you have it. 20 tips to get you set for writing a novel during November or any month of the year. For that matter, be sure to share your own success story in the project section. I'm really looking forward to seeing how you do on what you're working on on if you have any questions, I'm here to help in any way I can. So please don't think you're a nuisance or asking too many questions. Or, as I always tell my students, is no such thing as a silly question. So just ask away. Well, I hope you've enjoyed this class and I'll be adding not small writing courses in the coming months, So I hope to see you in one of those two on. If you found this class useful, I'd love for you to leave a review and maybe even tell your writer friends about it. So here's to your writing success. And once again, thank you so much for taking thistle class. Thank you. Bye.