Have you heard of NaNoWriMo? It stands for National Novel Writing Month and every November 1, participants from around the world begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. The “rules” state that you can plan, outline, think, and research as much as you want in October, but on November 1, you start a brand-new novel with no words already written.


Writing a book is a great exercise in discipline, refining your thought processes, and creativity. Even if you have no desire to write a novel, November is a great month to do the writing you are interested in. Or the writing that you know you’ve been needing to do for your business but just haven’t had time for.

Here are five steps  to get you going:

1. Have a “plan”

You most likely have an idea about what book you want to write for your business. Start there! Unlike a novel which needs characters, plot, setting, mood, theme, etc. the book you need for your business has basic sections that are unique to the information you specialize in.

As you create this plan, jot down all your ideas for chapters, topics, and sub-topics. After you have a page of ideas, you’ll organize them into sections. Don’t think too much! Just get all your ideas down. This will become the “plan” for your book.

(This isn’t an outline! It’s a writing plan. I’ll explain more in step 4.)

2. Get it all out

My writing instructors used to call this writing to silence the critic. It’s when you just keep writing even if you know that you’re not making sense, contradicting yourself, missing steps, and most importantly, writing like crap!

Write anyway.

NaNoWriMo isn’t a slow and steady marathon, remember! It’s a sprint to write an insane amount of words in just thirty days.

So get it all out of your head and onto the page. Don’t worry about grammar, flow, or false starts. Keep writing. You do, however, want to write clearly enough that when you look at it later that you can follow along. So it’s not jotting down notes; it is sentences and paragraphs and *gasp* chapters. But don’t worry if you don’t know how to bridge from one topic to the next.

3. Write every day

The strategy is to break 50,000 words down into daily writing goals. This isn’t a marathon, it’s a sprint. But, unlike writing your term paper the night before it is due (or your blog article the day before you post it!) you can’t just catch up in the days before November 30th!

You may be able to catch up from a day (or two) off, but if you wait too long, the goal of 50,000 words will slip away. (Speaking from experience here!)

Daily Writing Goals

  • If you write 5 days a week (including Friday, November 1) you’ll need to write 2,381 words per day. (21 total writing days)
  • If you write 6 days a week (including Friday, November 1 AND Saturday, November 2) you’ll need to write 1,923 words per day. (26 total writing days)
  • If you write 7 days a week you’ll need to write 1,667 words per day. (30 total writing days)

And let’s face it, with your busy life and schedule (and the Thanksgiving holiday!) you’re unlikely to write every single day. Go ahead and plan some days off! And in that plan, make sure that you plan other days where you write more words to catch up.

Not every person who starts NaNoWriMo makes it to the 50,000 word finish. And since you’ll most likely not be writing a novel, it will be tempting to let it slide and not work to complete the challenge. But think about this: if you write every week day in the month of November, that’s 21 days. Let’s say you ONLY write 1,000 words a day (about two pages). That’s 21,000 words that you didn’t have before!

4. Don’t publish it!

Yep, you heard me right. Whatever you come up with at the end of November DON’T PUBLISH IT.

At least, don’t publish it as is!

Too many writers, especially non-fiction writers, have the nasty habit of publishing too soon before the project is fully edited. And here, I don’t mean edited for grammar or consistency. I mean edited for THIS should be in the book; THIS shouldn’t.

I recently read a very interested non-fiction “business” book. The author had a wealth to say on a variety of different topics. But that was the problem. There were at least four different main topics and each one shouldn’t get a section. It should get its own book! The topics were loosely tied together under the umbrella of the author’s personal life story but each lost its impact because it wasn’t given enough depth and breadth.

Here’s a personal example:
I just published my “camping book” Pitch Your Tent: A Family’s Guide To Tent Camping (Affiliate link)

This project took me nearly two years from conception to publishing. Why? Because I just couldn’t focus. In my initial “plan” (Step 1) I had everything from tent camping to RVs to how to hook up your trailer to what type of porta pottie to buy to how to pick a tent to why you should go fishing while you were camping. I wrote a ton! After I started backpacking, I wrote sections for the book about that too!

After writing pages and pages and pages (over 200) I realized that the book I really needed to write was just a beginning guide to tent camping.

If I had tried to make my camping book everything to everyone, it would lose the focus and impact. And I’d lose credibility!

Once you have a “draft,” go over it to see what sections naturally go together, what has to be there, and what can be cut.

5. Decide what to do next

From this one big book where you have packed in every bit of your knowledge, expertise, love, and passion, decide what you’ll do with all the content you’ve created. You’ll probably find that at least one book is in there. A book with a tight focus on one aspect of your knowledge that doesn’t give away the farm!

You’ll also probably see 2-3 smaller books that might be ready to stand on their own or be expanded into larger books.

And I know you’ll have dozens of articles for blog posts, newsletters, or to submit to publications.

Then do it!
This is a bonus step: DO something with what you’ve created. It’s not enough to just realize that your 50,000 word business book exists, you need to do something with it!

What are your writing goals for November? Will you participate in a business book 50,000 word sprint?

If you would like to learn more about NaNoWriMo or to sign up to participate, here is the official website as well as the social media links:


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Kimberly Eldredge

Kimberly is an author, illustrator, and entrepreneur. She helps coaches, speakers, and authors take the content they already have and FINALLY get their book written and published.
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10 Responses to What Business Owners Can Learn From NaNoWriMo

  • Great article! I love how it is to the point and precise. Good information!
    Thanks for a great read!!

  • I saw saw and felt the power of this in a weekend. it’s amazing what you can get done!

  • The idea of 50,000 words in one month was totally intimidating until you broke it down. Looking at those numbers I realized that I already write about that much in blog posts, articles, etc. Totally doable!

    My favorite tip of yours is how you describe the editing process. I teach clients how to create their own learning products and group programs and this is the step that they get hung up on too! That desire to put everything that you know into one product or program comes up every time. When you are able to focus to specific areas it is amazing how much more powerful the outcome is.
    Stephanie LH Calahan (@StephCalahan) recently posted…Keys to Get More Traffic by Sharing Powerful TestimonialsMy Profile

    • I did the same thing, Stephanie: counted up all the words I write in a month ANYWAY and I wasn’t that far off either. The biggest difference is that all 50,000 words are in ONE manuscript. Wow!

      And yes, sometimes more ISN’T better. Sometimes the best part is putting it all in and then cutting out everything that isn’t the heart of just ONE central topic.

  • I have been participating in this challenge for the past 3 years! I have yet to make the 50,000 word goal but what’s more important for me is that it just gets me writing. And when I am writing for quantity instead of quality I actually find that some brilliant stuff ends up on my page. When I’m in a hurry to get words down I have less of a tendency to edit what I write.

    I really liked your five steps – really helped to simplify the writing process – it can feel so overwhelming sometimes!
    Brenda Adams recently posted…YOU Are a Walking ExperimentMy Profile

  • I love the “Get It All Out” step. That’s were I would have a tendency to get stuck — too much mental editing and thinking that everything I write has to be good before I write the next paragraph. “Keep going no matter what” is the antidote because there’s no time to slow down and judge or edit.
    Martia Nelson recently posted…Feminine Wealth & Owning Your True BeautyMy Profile

    • Exactly, Maria! Sometimes it can be very freeing to just “dump” it all on the page. I always picture my inner critic or cynic in my mind’s eye. Then I stuff a sock in her mouth!

      Editing can only be done when you have STUFF to edit. This exercise is designed to help you create that STUFF!