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Founded by Debbie Weil, author of The Corporate Blogging Book

3 tips to use the momentum of NaNoWriMo to write a nonfiction eBook

NaNoWriMo cartoonNaNoWriMo
started yesterday!

November is National Novel Writing Month and, in case you’ve missed it, this is the 14th year of this nutty annual event.

NaNoWriMo is a writing spree for thousands of would-be novelists who commit to churning out 50,000 words of fiction in 30 days. Quality be damned. It’s quantity that counts.

The folks who run this free program are quirky and wonderful.

Over on you’ll find loads of practical tips on how to defeat writing demons and slay procrastination, keep the creative juices flowing and move forward every day.

The site features pep talks, forums, cartoons and more.

I’m a huge fan of the event even though I haven’t written fiction (yet).

How to apply NaNoWriMo to a nonfiction eBook

More recently, nonfiction writers have wondered if they can participate in NaNoWriMo.

The answer is yes, even if you can’t pronounce NaNonFiWriMo (National Nonfiction Writing Month). I can’t.

Try NaNoRebel, because that’s what you are if you choose to write nonfiction. I participated in NaNoWriMo last year, BTW. And am trying it again as a NaNoRebel. That means I’m counting anything I write (my e-newsletter, this blog post and more) towards my total word count.

You don’t need to set 50,000 words as your goal

AND I’m not shooting for 50,000 words.

A short eBook can be as short as 15,000 words (that’s about 60 pages).

Here are 3 ways to leverage the momentum of NaNoWriMo to help you write a short, nonfiction eBook.

Tip #1: Organize

Start with content that you’ve already written.  Articles or blog posts? A PDF manifesto? A whitepaper?

Organize your material electronically. I recommend using Evernote (use it on your computer, mobile device or iPad) to scoop up and keep track of everything you come across, or have in hand, that relates to your book idea.

Just don’t tell the NaNoWriMo folks that you’re starting with pre-written content. Technically, that is not allowed.

A related tip: dump your existing content into one Word document and then print it out. This gives you a chunk of raw material to start from. And once it’s printed out, it’s easier to organize.

Tip #2: Track your progress

Take advantage of word progress widgets to spur you on. The best ones do more than a word count. They show you visually how much you’ve written and how close you are to your goal.

Once you register on (free), they offer a number of widgets to show your progress:

I really like the one that is part of writing software Scrivener.

Other good ones include Writertopia’s Word Progress Meters.

Tip #3: Don’t write sequentially

This is one of the oldest secrets amongst book writers and editors.

Once you have a rough organization of the topics you plan to cover, pick ONE topic and start writing. Don’t worry about where it will end up in your book.

Hint: don’t start with your Introduction. It’s easiest to write that when you’re finished.

Start with NaNoWriMo; then join Beta Author Boost

And yes, registration is open for my (really cool) Beta Author Boost program: 8 weeks of professional guidance and feedback from me to help you complete a high-quality, short eBook for Kindle.

Emphasis on high quality, BTW.

Start with NaNoWriMo to rev your engines. Get a chunk of writing done. If you’re pounding out the words, your writing will be rough.

Then join my program on Nov. 15th. You’ll be way ahead of the game with the content you’ve created.

Deets here (enrollment is limited):

30-day writing resources

How to write a nonfiction book in a month

How to use Evernote for NaNoWriMo

How to write a high-quality eBook in 30 days

  • Dixie Darr

    Hi, Debbie,
    I was happy to see this post. I also signed up for NaNonFiWriMo, but quickly decided to start breaking their rules, so I guess I’m a NaNo rebel, too. I’m including several previously written blog posts and set my goal for 30,000 words. I really have no idea how many words it will take to complete my book on Cutting College Costs, but aiming for 1,000 words a day seemed nice and tidy. I hardly ever write sequentially, so that’s out too. Having the goal and the time constraints, however, is proving to be a good tool to keep me on track.

    • Debbie Weil

      Dixie, I like your approach. It’s always a balance of “getting organized” and “setting goals” and then… seeing what happens. Writing is always a messy adventure, don’t you think?

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