Thursday, October 5, 2017

Preparing for NaNoWriMo: Setting a Realistic Schedule

November is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. It's an entire month dedicated to writing, or, more specifically, to amassing fifty thousand words on an original novel. Last year, over 400,000 writers from around the world participated. The NaNo website helps you track your word count, provides regional support and chat boards, and allows you to "win" when you hit your 50,000-word goal. Every November, bookstores, coffee shops, and 24-hour diners fill up with writers - you can practically feel the creativity in the air! NaNo provides a great community, and it's a great motivation for starting or continuing a novel project. 2017 will be my seventh year tackling NaNo, and I can't wait to get started!

That said, there are a few ways to set yourself up in advance for NaNo success. We'll explore these each Thursday in October, so you'll be ready to hit the ground running on November 1st!

Today, let's talk about setting a realistic NaNo writing schedule. 50,000 words over a 30-day month breaks down to roughly 1667 words per day. Very few of us will be able to devote all of November to writing, without the obligations of work, school, family, friends, etc. interfering. So take a good look at your schedule, whether you have unusual obligations coming up (travel, presentations, exams, etc.), and plan accordingly.

Many people stick to the strict 1667 words/day method. That's what I usually do. In November, I set my alarm for 5:30 a.m. on weekdays so I can write for a few hours each day before work. If I write more than 1667 words one day, that means I can stress a little less as the end of November approaches. But, as often happens, if I write less than 1667 words, I know I'll need to make it up over the weekend. Knowing the intense schedule is only for 30 days helps me stay committed to waking up early and writing until my fingers ache.

Others will devote their weekends to writing, and not stress too much about it during the week. Write-ins, or in-person or online meet-ups dedicated to NaNo writing, can be very effective for this. Setting aside three or four-hour blocks for writing on weekends will get you to the 50,000-word count just as effectively as writing every day.

Many regional chapters will also set up all-night writing parties during the month. If you find yourself very behind on your word count by mid-month, this can really help.

Keep in mind that November also means Thanksgiving, so for many of us, we won't be able to write over the holiday, what with cooking, cleaning, eating, family/friend time, more eating, Black Friday shopping, more eating, etc. It can help to plan to take a day or two off over Thanksgiving weekend, because then you'll know in advance that you won't make your word count on those days, and you can make up for it on other days.

What's your scheduling plan for tackling NaNo this year?


  1. First off, how are we not already NaNo buddies? Add me! I'm karareynolds.
    Thanksgiving weekend always kills me because I host for my husband's family and my sister, so it's pretty busy. My trick is to shoot for 2000 words a day at the beginning of the month to give me a bit of a cushion. TBH, I'm a little worried about finishing this year because I'm an ML now, too. I keep telling myself it's okay because I already have a WIP in the works this year from Camp NaNo.

    1. I will definitely add you! My November is going to be tight, too, with several work trips. So I've decided to rename October as #PlanNoWriMo, and I'm working on outlines, character studies, etc. so I can hit the ground running on Nov. 1. We'll see how that works out...

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