*originally posted on Medium.com 11.2.17 / photo source: pixabay.com

It’s November 1st — the first official day of NaNoWriMo and I don’t have an idea. Empty page, cursor idling and haunting me as the minutes ticked on.

That was me yesterday. Struggling in the days leading up to National Novel Writing Month for some sort of story idea that I’d been harvesting and saving for this very moment.

And then the panic started to set it knowing I already had a busy couple weeks coming up, which meant I was wondering how in the world was I going to fit in time to write 1,667 words each day for the next 30 days.

Two years ago when I finished my first NaNoWriMo with a double whammy of writing the entire book on a typewriter, hand counting my words each day.

But I conquered day 1, then 2, and the habit became addictive. My day was not complete if I hadn’t tried to write a few words on the page.

If I can do it, so can you!

Here is my 2 cents into a successful NaNoWriMo experience.

Just Write

Any idea is an idea, even a brain dump and a ramble. Just start typing and see where it takes you. 1,667 words for me is about 5 pages. I started this year telling an adventure I had with my boyfriend recently. I don’t know how it will play out but it started spawning more ideas and before I knew it I was mid sentence and over the word count and I wanted to keep writing.

You don’t have to write it all at once

There’s no rule that says you have to write all your words in one sitting. Today I wrote in my Google Drive document while sitting at stoplights and if I had a sentence pop into my head, I quickly typed it out while at work. While I was waiting for a program or file to load, I wrote a couple more sentences.

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Write for five minutes when you first get up
  • Write during your lunch break
  • Stay at work a few minutes late after you clock off and write
  • Carry a notepad with you and write while waiting for an appointment (or on a notepad app on your phone)
  • Voice dictate your pages on your phone while you drive and use a program to create a transcript (you do this on your phone notepad or Google as well)
  • Write before you go to bed
  • Plan family writing or quiet time each day

There are plenty more options, but mix it up. If you need a rigid routine, pick a time and place that works best. I can’t always get up and write and I can’t always write before bed. The variety helps my creativity.

Find a buddy

While I’ve only completed one NaNoWriMo, I’ve participated multiple years, and this is the first year I have a local buddy who I work with. Day 1 I asked if she had signed up yet and when I finished writing I texted her. We plan to share stories as well along the way. Even without her knowing, she was holding me accountable for putting words down. And I ended up motivating her with my text to sit down and write even a bit.

Whether your buddy is someone you know or from the NaNoWriMo online community or a FB group, the encouragement is amazing.

Power Through

Most of the time we start of strong, we are oozing creative genius, everyone is posting about their success, we hit our goal every day.

And then suddenly life throws a curve ball and you only managed to write a half your words, thinking the next few days you would make up for it, and all of a sudden you see you tracker bar dip below the goal line.

You feel defeated. You’re already behind. You might as well stop and try again next year.


I speak from experience. The year I finished I got behind. Writing on a typewriter took almost twice as long, I had to swap pages, I had to manually count words. I had to carve out almost 2 hours each day when I wasn’t fully juiced with ideas to finish.

But I was determined because I put it out there and I wanted that badge that said I was a NaNoWriMo Winner!

So the last day of the month I cleared my calendar and I started typing. And I typed. And I typed, typed, typed. I’m sure I had some blisters. My feet hurt from standing at my desk for hours.

And by 9pm I had written over 5,000 to catch myself up to 50,000. It never felt so good!

And even better, my story was still going so I came back after I recovered from the marathon and finished it up.

Have Fun

That’s the point in my opinion. If it’s not fun, then we shouldn’t do it.

Yes, writing can be stressful and we writers are constantly challenging ourselves and rewriting and never feel like our work is perfect. We write because we love it.

If you’re happy writing 500 words a day on week days, and blocking a huge chunk of time shutting out the world to write on the weekends, then do it.

If you just want to use NaNoWriMo to start the habit of writing daily, then do it.

If trying to hit the goal every day causes more anxiety than getting a tooth pulled, create your own goal. Challenge yourself to do a 1/2 NaNoWriMo or a NaNoWriMo Sprint vs a Beast (little reference to the Spartan race series).

It’s your book, it’s your challenge, you get to call the shots.


Take a deep breath, find your zone, create your happy place, and just enjoy the journey that is NaNoWriMo. Your story is calling your name. It wants to be told, it wants to be read.

If you want to connect as NaNoWriMo buddies, you can follow me HERE.

Happy NaNoWriMo’ing.


PS … to catch up on Season One of the Alter Egos podcast, swing over HERE.