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Use NaNoWriMo to Write Your Nonfiction Book 

October 25, 2022



Note From Rochelle


Dear Writers,


In one week, it’s #NaNo time! That’s when all sorts of writers ditch the excuses and commit to writing a 50,000-word novel in a month. Some writers consider it a great way to beat procrastination—because the challenge gives you:

+A deadline

+A daily goal



But what if you put off writing because you are terrified of failing or succeeding?


According to my friend, Liesel Teversham, you need to work through that emotion. And she’ll show you how at our workshop, Overcome Procrastination and Fear. You’ll learn your procrastination type, how to use EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques or tapping) to overcome procrastination, and the tools and practices that make it easier to get work done. Join us!

Today’s tip will help you get ready to write a nonfiction book during NaNo!


Happy writing,

Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach


Use NaNoWriMo to Write Your Nonfiction Book 

by Rochelle Melander


Over the years, I’ve often used National Novel Writing Month to write nonfiction. I wrote my #NaNo how to book, Write-A-Thon, during National Novel Writing Month. In 2018, I wrote Level Up. Both books helped boost my business. Here’s what writing a nonfiction book can do for you:


+establish you as an expert

+increase your credibility

+educate and inspire the public about your work

+increase brand loyalty

+create trust with your audience

+capture media attention

+build buzz for you or your business

+help you gain access to important people

+generate client leads

+generate income


If you’re thinking about using National Novel Writing Month to write your nonfiction book, here’s a quick start guide to planning your book:


Clarify your topic

Most of us have experienced that awful moment when someone asks about our book, and we have no idea how to explain it quickly. We mutter, “Uh, the book’s about how you can, you know, be well better at doing stuff like …” Before we can get to the point, we’ve lost our audience. Yikes! Without clarity about our topic, we can’t talk about or write a book. The solution: create a one-sentence topic statement. For Write-A-Thon, my sentence was: “Write-A-Thon teaches professionals how to plan and write books fast.” When I hit writer’s block, I’d return to my topic sentence. It helped me to regain focus and write forward.


Gather content

Now that you have a topic, what do you want to say about it? Most of us who plan to write books quickly will write about topics we know well—so well that we don’t even know everything we know. That’s why we need to take three distinct steps to gather our content:

+Do a brain dump. Record what you plan to write about your topic.

+Phone a friend—or two. Ask colleagues to list their top five questions about your topic.

+Talk to your market. Ask clients what information they’re interested in knowing.


By the time you’re done, you’ll have a great big list of stuff to write about.


Get structure

A book structure is nothing more than a container for your ideas. When you clean out a closet, you end up with stacks of stuff that need containers to hold them: shelves for shoes, drawers and rods for clothing, and bins for the extras.


Take a look at your stacks of ideas from your content dump and consider how you might best present this to a reader. Here’s an assignment I give my clients that will help you find the perfect structure:


Name your five favorite books and then check out their structures.

+How does the author tackle the topic?

+Does the book have sections?

+How many chapters are there?

+How long is each chapter?

+What kind of “pieces” does each chapter include—essay, callouts, sidebars, quotes, questions for discussion, and so forth.


Once you have a sense of what kind of book you like, make your own structure, plugging your ideas into the outline.


Gather research

So now you have lots to work with: a topic sentence, a list of ideas, and a structure to put them in. No doubt you can write much of this stuff without notes—it’s a part of who you are and what you do every day. But I’m guessing that some of your ideas will be boosted by additional information. Before November, gather that information in one place. Take these steps:

+Create a computer folder and move research documents or previous writing on your topic into it.

+Create a bookmarks folder for your book so that you can easily store and access helpful sites.

+Gather hard copies of books and other research notes in one place.

+Make use of online tools like Evernote to collect and organize research.


That’s it! Now you’re ready to tackle those small steps and write.


Bonus: If you want to create a book out of existing content, like old blog posts or essays, check out my workshop Maximize Your Content.


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