I Won NaNoWriMo

This is Why I’ll Never Do it Again

Jenna Goldsmith
5 min readDec 6, 2020


NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, happens every November and participants set a word count goal (usually 50,000 words) and try to reach it in 30 days. 50k words in 30 days doesn’t sound like much, especially to some writers, until you actually go to write it.

I’d made three previous attempts at NaNoWriMo, once in 2013, in 2017, and one last time in 2018, but each time I’d failed to even make it past 15,000 words. I figured I just didn’t have some key writing component in my brain to actually crank out that many words in such a short amount of time. I’d even written about how I was never going to do NaNoWriMo again.

But, something just happened this year. I was feeling stuck on the book I’m revising and needed something to distract me, so I could reignite some writing fuel for that. Plus, I’d had this idea bouncing around in my brain. So, I thought, why not give myself a little challenge and actually beat the NaNo slump.

That’s what I did. I made a fairly detailed outline (though, some parts were more helpful than others) and I girded myself to begin a gigantic writing adventure in November.

Thus, on November 30th, 2020, I finally hit 50,000 words and finally won at NaNoWriMo. But, I knew by the end of the month that this was my very last NaNo. Here’s why:

I’m a chronic underwriter

Writers seem to fall into two camps; you’re either an overwriter or an underwriter. The labels are fairly self-explanatory, but both have their pros and cons.

Being an underwriter means that my first drafts are basically the skeleton of the story or the foundation. All the main plot points and characters are there, but that’s about it. Through the editing and revising process, the story grows and develops as layers are added on and on. Actually, a lot of my best plot points are developed later into my process.

But, this means that trying to write a very specific amount is difficult for me. My writing is fairly terse and to-the-point as it is, and I’m not one to ramble on. For example, the first draft of the novel I’m revising was under 40,000 words.



Jenna Goldsmith

Writer || INFJ || Wellness junkie and chronic oversharer. jgoldsmithwrites.com/