How I Wrote a Novel in 23 Days

This was originally posted on Stay Bookish.

I’ve never believed more in the saying “If you set your mind to it, you’ll achieve it” than I do this very day. At the start of April, I decided to join Camp NaNoWriMo in the hopes of finally finishing a manuscript, sick of having never completed one despite countless attempts at writing novels.

I was determined to write my heart out this month, even if it meant countless nights without sleep and taking a break from blogging and reading.

Early this morning, bleary-eyed from typing all the words for the last few chapters of my WIP, What Happens Now, I’d checked my word count. I was at 49, 999. This is the part where I freak out, type one more word, then scream a loud HALLELUJAH.

camp nanowrimo 2015 winner certificate

I felt so pumped because I did it. I DID IT. I conquered Camp NaNoWriMo and won! Even though I’ve been ahead of my writing for several days and I felt really proud then, actually winning had me over the moon. To think that I’ve always believed that I was such a pathetically slow writer, I can’t help but beam that I finished writing my novel in just 3 weeks, a week earlier than intended. It’s totally crazy.

Was there sorcery involved? Absolutely, yeah. And today, I’m going to tell you the magic ingredients.

A Plan

I didn’t know about plotters and pantsers until I did NaNoWriMo last November. Then, I’d totally pantsed it and not surprisingly, I’d failed to finish. This year though, for Camp, I had a plan. And it made all the difference. Did I turn myself in to a super plotter or something over the months? Nope. There was absolutely no comprehensive chapter plot summary or intensive character developing involved before April had started. That said, I did take a day or so before Camp to think of a basic plan: who my characters were, what the story was about, a vague plot outline and my main theme.


Lots of people who join NaNoWriMo probably start with lots of motivation- may it be because of their excitement for their story idea or just excitement to take part in this novel writing challenge. The thing is, you have to hold on to that motivation tight throughout the month. Don’t ever let go. Because if you do, and you let yourself get behind for even just one day, there’s a great tendency you’ll lose that writing spark. Staying motivated is crucial!


I am a huge procrastinator when it comes to many things but doing Camp this month had kicked me into being more disciplined. Everyday I had to write. I didn’t let one day go without opening my writing program and typing words. Without noticing, I’d started to keep a consistent schedule: On weekdays when I had school, I stayed in the library during breaks and wrote. When I got home and until really late into the night, I wrote some more. On weekends, I ditched sleeping in to get more writing done. All day, I’d write if it was possible. It slowly became a routine and it contributed so much to helping me reach my goal.


It’s hard to keep on writing if you’re not in the mood. If you’re not inspired. My inspiration board and my writing playlist spurred me to write my novel. They were a driving force that helped me carry on writing and reminded me each time why I was doing this- because I loved my story. Whenever I started to feel uninspired or felt like words were escaping me, I took short breaks and just listened to the songs that put me in the temper to write and I pinned stuff on my board that kept ideas going.


I used to think that writing is a very solitary thing, but it isn’t. Like in life, you need people. Having someone support you, cheer for you, tell you you can do it, commend you for your hard work and encourage you to write on is what’ll help you get to the finish line.

With this, I want to thank you (yes, you) for standing by me as I wrote my novel. Your heartening encouragements on Twitter, and especially your excitement about What Happens Now, are what pushed me to succeed in this endeavour. I’ll definitely work hard on editing and revisions so that you, dear reader, may one day get to peruse my story.

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  1. Just a Random Dude on April 23 at 8:30 am

    Heyyy, I’m just wondering. I, as a Fil writer, am having a hard time doing contempo mainly because of the setting. I haven’t been to US, and to write an English-languaged story is to set them in a location where the language is usually spoken. I haven’t been to any of the places. Do you have advice for me? Thanks.

    • Nickole Jean on April 25 at 12:22 am

      Write about our country. Almost every single book out there circles on U.S. setting so why not write from a Philippine setting. That would be amazing if other nationalities will be able to read about our gems 🙂

      • just a random dude on June 23 at 6:19 am

        But my story isnt ph-related. How now? (Not being unpatriotic or something.)

        • Hazel @ Stay Bookish on June 23 at 8:34 am

          As much as I’d love to write about our country (I hope to do so one day), I was in the same boat as you, random dude. I’ve never been to the places I wrote about in What Happens Now (which featured states in the west coast and Southern USA) but I knew it was the setting the story needed. I think the best advice I could give is to research your location. I thankfully had a USA travel guidebook and it really helped in the process of getting to know the places that my characters visit. Making a pinterest board with photos of your setting also really helps so you can envision it!

          • just a random dude on June 23 at 1:01 pm

            Ooohh, thank you for the advice, Hazel! 🙂

  2. Victoria on April 23 at 9:05 am


  3. Kristin on April 23 at 9:48 am

    Congratulations Hazel!!! This is so exciting! I hope your story gets published with the amazing cover you posted earlier!

  4. Miguel on April 23 at 11:13 am

    CONGRATULATIONS HAZEL! I can only imagine the many sleepless nights you had to go through to finish this. Hope your book reaches an audience someday! 🙂

  5. Shelumiel on April 23 at 11:58 am

    WOOT! What an accomplishment! I’m proud of you, Hazel! Promise me I’ll get an ARC one day! 😉

  6. Amalfi on April 23 at 12:18 pm

    OMG!!! Congrats Hazel! I want to read your novel!!

  7. Mariah on April 23 at 12:33 pm

    Congratulations, Hazel!! 🙂

  8. Mawa Mahima on April 23 at 4:00 pm

    CONGRATS! Whoo! You deserve it, in three weeks too? 😀
    This post is motivating in and of itself! I think the discipline tip is the most comforting one for me because last year I couldn’t get into the habit of writing every day (and ended up suffering as a result). You should treat yourself to something now that you’ve reached your 50K!

  9. Erin @ The Hardcover Lover on April 23 at 4:27 pm

    Congratulations, Hazel! I wanted to participate, but there was no way I’d be able to for Camp this year. I do have an idea in my head, and I’ll definitely be participating and writing in November.

    What writing program do you use? I hate using Word when I attempt writing a novel because it’s just so hard to reformat everything in the end.

  10. Annie on April 23 at 10:16 pm

    CONGRATULATIONS HAZEL!!! YOU DID IT! And in less than a month! That’s crazy but so totally amazing.

    I’m so happy for you and am eagerly waiting the day we all might be able to read your novel. And also thank you for your amazing tips! You’ve made me seriously motivated to write my own novel now.

    Anyway congratulations again! That’s a huge achievement!

  11. Shannelle on April 24 at 2:01 am

    Congratulations! I feel absolutely proud of myself that I even wrote 10,000 words, because all the stories I wrote before died by 1,000. It’s not a finished novel, but it’s the most I’ve ever written, and I feel so proud of myself for reaching it. It feels great knowing you’ve achieved something this monumental. Anyway, go grab some chocolate and enjoy your new status as a Camp NaNo winner!

  12. Rebecca on April 24 at 3:04 am

    Congrats, Hazel! Writing a book is an achievement in its self, but writing a book in a month is incredible. Good luck editing!

  13. Taylor @ The Musical Bibliolater on April 24 at 1:08 pm

    Yay! Congrats Hazel!!! It feels great a when you finally accomplish something you worked hard on. I’m sure planning helps. You really need discipline to write a whole book. Keep up the good work!

  14. Nickole Jean on April 25 at 12:19 am

    Can we read the book? 🙂 I don’t know how that website works but I want to read your work ♡

  15. Inge @ Bookshelf Reflections on April 26 at 10:28 am

    Well done, Hazel, that’s amazing! I’m doing NaNo as well, it’s my third time, and I won the two last times. I’m a little bit behind, but I’m determined to catch up and see that “Winner!” badge on my profile again 😀 it’s such an amazing way to really push yourself to write a manuscript in a month. It’s far from perfect and will need a lot of editing, but it’s 50,000 more words than you started out with!

  16. Kaina on April 27 at 5:55 pm

    CONNGGGGRATS GIRLIE! So proud of you 🙂 Way to stick with your goal and achieve it. Can’t believe you wrote a NOVEL in 27 days O_O I’m pretty sure it would take me that long to write a chapter xD Congrats again! *throws confetti*

  17. Diana on April 30 at 10:33 am

    I’m so proud of you! I can never seem to finish NaNoWriMo and I get so mad at myself because I start with a great idea and then just lose focus. 🙁 I’m also a huge procrastinator and I’m also in the middle of grad school so sometimes when I have spare time, the last thing I want to do is open Word and start writing. Plus, I don’t have a huge support network of people to cheer me on so it really requires a lot of discipline on my part. But I’m gonna keep trying every year and hopefully, I’ll get to finish. It’s such a huge accomplishment and you should be SO PROUD OF YOURSELF, LADY!

  18. Alexa S. on May 1 at 1:11 pm

    CONGRATULATIONS HAZEL! I am so, so proud of you, and excited for your WIP. I didn’t join in on Camp NaNoWriMo, but I did join the last NaNoWriMo and managed to successfully finish my WIP then. I seriously have been feeling unmotivated when it comes to the writing lately though, and just wanted to say that your post is totally inspiring to get up and try to ease myself back into the writing groove again 🙂

  19. […] Hazel explains how she wrote a novel in 23 days. […]

  20. […] “How I Wrote a Novel in 23 Days” @ Stay Bookish: It’s no secret that I’m an aspiring author, and I need all the help to actually sit down and write that I can get – and this is quite inspiring! […]

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