How to “Win” National Novel Writing Month

It has occurred to me that anytime I wrote a post about National Novel Writing Month (here and here…and here) in the past, I always used the acronym-ish title, which may have alienated anyone who didn’t know what NaNoWriMo was offhand. My apologies.

So…..about this crazy month, I’m kind of dying. Eerily enough, upon rereading my old posts regarding NaNoWriMo, I see that around this point in the month, almost to the day, was when I gave up the first year I did it. November 16th, you insidious beast.

Some writers say they don’t have time to write 50,000 words in a month, and maybe they really don’t. But if I’m being honest with myself, I do have the time. I have little snippets of time throughout my day, like if I choose to get up before getting ready for work at 5 or 6 AM. Doable, sure. But I like my warm, cozy bed more. Or maybe in that 1-4 hours after we put my daughters to bed at 8:30ish before I myself crash face-first, butt in the air into my padded room own bed. And I try, folks. I really freaking try. But it seems like some invisible force constantly stands in my way, preventing me from getting my fingers to the keyboard, or even more twisted, letting me get there and then laughing over my shoulder, making me wonder why I’m even doing this. And then the fear creates the writer’s block, and then you’re one of those a-holes calling yourself a writer but you don’t even write anymore, and then suddenly, flash forward to twenty years from now, and you’re wearing an A-shirt stained with Chef Boyardee and shaking your fist at the skies as you consume Stephen King’s 277th best-selling novel. I’m sure you feel the same. So here are some coping mechanisms I have been using this month to get by:

  • Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way: Don’t write a blog post in the middle of NaNoWriMo.
  • If you’ve consumed far too much coffee and it’s giving you jitters, tension, and higher stress levels, then you’re on the right track. Keep going. Just kidding, switch to green tea, yo. It lubricates your brain folds and helps you focus.
  • Reignite the fire. Were you excited about your novel before the month started and now you just feel like it’s work to get those words in? Find a cool pic for the cover, make a playlist to listen to while writing, fangirl on your shit, so that you’re excited again. Maybe even hold off on rewarding yourself with those things until you get your 1,667 words for the day. Reward yourself with some of the cool little badges offers.


  • When you get to the point of holy-shit-I’m-10,000-words behind, it’s time to utilize that crafty little tool on your NaNo Stats sidebar at the bottom: Words Per Day to Finish on Time and reconfigure some things.


In my case, I skipped five days. So, as you can see, my stats isn’t so great.

  • And finally, NEVER let yourself give up. I fought with this a lot this month. This is the first year I’ve attempted to do NaNo since becoming a mom, and I’ve got to admit, it is hard. But if you WANT it you have to WORK for it. You can’t give up. Even if you don’t “win” NaNoWriMO and achieve the 50K words you set out to do at the beginning of the month, you still end up with more words than you would have achieved this month for pushing yourself. So…hell yeah!

Have any preferred coping mechanisms with the obstacles in the way of what you want? We could use all the help we can get here, so please, share…

(P.S. Does this count toward my words for today?)

8 thoughts on “How to “Win” National Novel Writing Month”

  1. Yeah. This is my first time, though I’ve done the Camps. I’m also doing online courses, volunteering, blogging 4 times a week, and family time (though it’s a little easier for me, I have teens. They WANT you to leave them alone. I also have a very understanding husband 😉 ). If you ever hear a wailing scream in the middle of the night…it’s just me.

    1. I can’t imagine that day, when they’re trying to escape you rather than climbing your legs. 🙂 The Camps, volunteering and blogging that often are all awesome! Good luck this month!

  2. Good for you Ash, pushing through. It’s very admirable that you’re a mother with an extra full time job and working under the 50K pressure. You go girl! 🙂

    1. God, I feel like it should be 18. Haha. There have been so many times I’ve wanted to give up, like whenever I have to go into work early the next morning or the girls have a bad night (or day, or week!). But honestly, I can’t let myself give up without fighting for this every step of the way. Your encouragement and recognition of how bloody hard this is is so appreciated, friend. Thank you.


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