5 Tips to Help You Finish a 30-Day Writing Challenge

To keep the momentum going, Day #2 of the WNFIN Challenge focuses on getting to “done,” as Rachel Z. Cornell, the first-ever “professional nag,” likes to say. In this guest post she offers some practical tips about how to actually complete the WNFIN Challenge. After all, that’s the whole point—for you to start and to finish your nonfiction book, essay, article, proposal, or report during the 30-day period known as National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo). I’m sure you’ll find her tips useful all month long or any other time you start a nonfiction writing project.
5 Tips to Help You Finish a 30-Day Writing Challenge

By Rachel Z. Cornell

tips for getting to the finish lineYou’ve made the commitment to complete a non-fiction writing project in 30 days. I’m excited for you and want to help ensure your success. Below are five tips my writing clients use all the time to make sure they finish what they start.

1. Don’t Wait for the Mood to Hit You

Artist Chuck Close says, “Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.” This means, you don’t wait around to be in the mood to write or until you have a blissful five-hour block of time to sit down. You just show up, preferably at the same time every day. If you long for inspiration, consistency will help the muse know when to put you in her appointment book. Regardless of how you feel, though, your job is to just show-up.

2. Write or Do Nothing

When you sit down to write, do one of two things: write or do nothing. If you choose nothing, sit on your hands. No surfing, talking on your phone or even humming. Sit. It’s perfectly okay to do nothing. Chances are, though, you will have a thought and will want to write it down. Then you’re writing. If you commit to doing only one of these two things during your scheduled writing time, I promise you, you will make meaningful progress.

3. Get Rid of Distractions

To help you write or do nothing, rid yourself of some of the most common distractions, notably social media and the Internet. There are simple, inexpensive programs such as Freedom, SelfControl and Anti-Social that are designed to lock you out of the internet or tempting websites for a set amount of time. Install one of these programs.

If, like me, your best writing time is the morning, then set your internet lockout software up before you go to bed. Lock yourself out so you’re not allowed online until you complete your scheduled morning writing time. This will save you from one of the most prose-killing monsters of modern life: your inbox. Most of these programs allow for specified sites to stay active. This is good if you want to use the following online tool.

4. Use the Power of Accountability

Pair a short, well-defined and quantifiable action with positive peer pressure, and you’re practically unstoppable. That’s what Patti, a two-time documentary writer/producer discovered. She’s a regular on my accountability chat, a free 24/7 service on ProNagger.com. Patti told me, “I finished both my documentaries one sentence at a time on your chat.” People from all over the world stop by to work on and finish their projects one small action at a time.

Here’s how the chat works. You identify a specific task you want to take. Maybe you want to write the first paragraph for a chapter. You “open a bookend” by typing your action into the chat box. As soon as you submit the action, you go do the work. When you’re finished, “close the bookend” by returning to the chat and saying you’re done. There’s usually a person or two in the room, and people are always eager to cheer each other on.

5. Untangle Your Tongue

If you’re like every other person who writes, there are times when little details or too many voices in your head get in the way of your good ideas. You can cut through all the noise in a heart beat. At the start of each sentence just write, “What I mean to say is….” I really hope you try this because it’s remarkably effective. Once you finish your writing session, go back, delete all your “what I mean to says,” and tah-dah…You’re a super genius.

Super genius and committed author, that is. Writing isn’t easy. Distractions, isolation, lack of clarity, and doubt thwart your efforts, but now you have a few sexy tools and tips that will keep you moving. Come say hello on the Accountability Chat and mention you’re a part of the WNFIN challenge.

About the  Author

ACleanbackgroundSometimes referred to as the “Blind Prophet of Productivity,” Rachel Z. Cornell is the owner and operator of ProNagger.com. As the first-ever Professional Nag, Cornell guides groups and individual clients through her unique, systematic method for creating what you want and finishing what you start. When you start something with the Nag, you finish it!

Image credit: dirkercken / 123RF Stock Photo


  1. Oh my goodness– each tip I thought, “Yeah, that’s good.” Then I’d read the next one and think, “Oooo that’s even better.” I love the tip: write or be silent. Oh how social media distracts and numbs my thinking. I also loved the tip: What I mean to say….

    I’m going to check out the accountability site now. This post is saved!


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