Skip to content
Skip to main content

National Novel Writing Month

Updated Wednesday, 1 November 2023

You know how they say everyone's got a novel in them, just waiting to be written? Well, now's your chance!

Find out more about The Open University's Creative Writing courses.

Join writers all over the world as they write 50k words in a month as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Here are our top tips and tricks to get a head start.

1. Just do it

The best way to combat any procrastination is to just do it. No excuses, no tomorrows and no negotiations, as the perfect time, will never come.

Start by recording any ideas or thoughts you might have, whether it's pen to paper, or on your phone as a quick audio note; the important thing is that you write it all down so you can refer to it later.

If you're worried about distractions, our one minute study skills tips may help you focus on the task at hand, and if those tips aren't enough, we have a plethora of resources available, all designed to improve your skills for study. 


2. Put it in your diary


To ensure you find time for your writing, block time out for it. Treat your writing like you were making plans with a friend, and give it the same respect. If something else comes up, do not reschedule this time it's this lack of prioritising that feeds the procrastination.

Want some inspiration on managing your creativity? Then this free course - 'Making creativity and innovation happen' will unleash your inner literary warrior.



3. Write imperfectly


One common hurdle for many is the fear of 'doing things badly', but it's letting go of the idea of perfection that'll allow your creativity to flow freely.

Perfection is unattainable; it's practising that fosters quality, so adopt the idea of just experimenting for fun to alleviate the self-imposed pressure. Read on as novelist and lecturer Sally O'Reilly gives us her ten top tips for writing a novel. 



4. Write what you know


The best novels are written with authenticity, so whether you're writing about crime, sex or science fiction, writing about what you're experienced in is likely to keep you on track. Ask yourself - what are you passionate about? What do you tend to read yourself? 

If you know what excites you, but don't know how to write about it, then this free course 'Writing what you know' will enhance your ability to write about your memories and feelings about a place or character.



5. Read what you want to write about


To keep you in the zone, reading the works of authors you admire could be that extra dose of daily inspiration to keep up that motivation.

Whether you're into writing thrillers, plays or romances, immersing yourself with your chosen fiction will focus your mind, especially if you read with a critical mind.

For more guidance on becoming a writer through reading, enrol on our free course - Creative writing and critical reading on OpenLearn. And if your story ideas involve characters and an enticing plot, then Start writing fiction: characters and stories could be the perfect free course for you.

You’ve finished your novel now what? 

Firstly, well done! If you want to take it further and see your creation on the bookshelves then your best bet is to get a literary agent to represent you. Here are Five Top Tips on how to hook an agent.
To find out more about this annual event, head over to NaNoWriMo for further information and writer's resources.



Become an OU student

Ratings & Comments

Share this free course

Copyright information

Skip Rate and Review

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?