How to Survive NaNoWriMo


         Before you can continue with this guide, you first have to know WHAT in the world NaNoWriMo is. It stands for National Novel Writing Month and takes place every November. The standard goal is to write 50k words in ONE MONTH. Sounds crazy, right? Well, now you know why you need this guide. (If you want more info on NaNoWriMo, visit

Okay, so last year I completed my goal of 50k words and managed it in just 28 days. How? It was pretty dang hard, to be honest. But that’s the point, right? The whole idea of Nano is to push your abilities, force you to stop procrastinating, and GET CRAP DONE! YEAH!

Let’s jump right in!


1) Find the Motivation

In order to get anything done, you have to have motivation. So that’s where we’ll start. (This is where I get you HYPED!)

A. Break it Down Now, Y’all! So, 50k words seems a little overwhelming, right? Yes, yes it does. But let’s break it down here using some complex Calculus and rocket science.

50k words/30 days in November/16 average hours awake in a day. So, you need to write 105 words per hour. Not horrible, right? Realistically, you won’t have a chance to do it every single hour. A better approach is to do it 1-3 times over the course of the day. Mostly you just need to know what style works best for you. Are you best at cramming it all in at once? Then write 1,667 at once all at once. If you’d rather spread it out, set aside two-three times a day to do it and write 835 or 555 words. Manageable, right?

B. Tired of Procrastinating. Yes. We are all there at some point.  As Dorothy Parker said, “I hate writing, I love having written”. NaNoWriMo basically forces you to stop procrastinating and get those fingers flying across the keyboard. Especially if you’re an achievement/goal oriented person like myself.

Seriously, think about it. If you follow through with this, you could end up with 50 FREAKING THOUSAND WORDS WRITTEN IN ONE MONTH!!! If that’s not a good enough reason to be absolutely hyped, I don’t know how you help you.


C. Accountability and Friends. While this goes along with point B), I feel like it is worthy of a separate category. Some of us have writing “accountability partners” to make sure we don’t waste our time getting everything EXCEPT writing done. But not all of us have that privilege. NaNo builds that benefit in. It makes it easy to connect with people online who are also taking place in the “Great Writer’s Race”. Not only that, it makes it easy to talk to people you may know in real life about writing, thus helping you create that accountability that may continue beyond NaNo!

2) Find the Time

So now you’re HYPED! But you’re still thinking, “How in the world will I find time to write 1,667 words a day??” Valid question. Let’s jump into the answer.

A. Schedule It. Yes, you’ve heard it before, and yes, it’s still true. You’re probably going to have to schedule out your writing time. It might not be the same time(s) every day, but that doesn’t matter. Schedule it like a meeting!

Truthfully, I didn’t schedule an exact time, but my strategy was “Get home early every night and write for two hours”. Simple, yet very effective. I purposely left events early, said no to plans, etc. This is going to take sacrifice. But keep the goal in mind! Like these two adorable dogs!


B. No Breaks. At the beginning, you might start really strong and manage 10k in the first 3 days. If this happens, you’ll be tempted to slow down and say, “Yeah, I’ve got this. I’ll take a break.” DO NOT SLOW DOWN. The worst thing you can do is break the habit of writing you have developed throughout the month. Do not stop unless you absolutely have to. You never know what’s going to happen in your life, especially when Thanksgiving rolls around. If you get ahead, stay ahead.

C. Drop the ‘Flix, the ‘Lu, and the ‘Gram. You heard me. This is something I preach on relentlessly in my blogs. Netflix is not necessary. Hulu is especially unnecessary (c’mon, you still have to watch ads even with Hulu+?), and Instagram gives you unlimited garbage to mindlessly sift through. As someone who runs a large writing Instagram account *cough* follow @write_or_left on Instagram*cough*, this advice is BAD for business. So you KNOW I mean it.

Yes, all of them have some benefits, but very few will help you write. If you REALLY want to reach your goal, you’ll find a way to do without for a month. Or at the very least, cut back.

That’s basically all you need at this point. In review:

  • Find the motivation from deep within yourself, like a tribal warrior summoning the spirits of his ancestors.

  • Make time as if J.K. Rowling offered to tutor you for 1-2 hours every day for 30 days straight.




Tell me what you think! Did I miss any vital tips?

Until next time, Caleb Robinson

One thought on “How to Survive NaNoWriMo

  1. Some great strategies. I’m planning to give it a go this year. Of course the first thing you need is an idea of what you’re going to write, which I have. So now I feel confident to give it a go.


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