5 Ways to Make NaNoWrimo Work for You

In two weeks, thousands of people all over the world will hunker down and attempt an incredible feat: a 50,000 word drafted novel in one month.

This is an extremely difficult thing to do. Obvious, right? But just how obviously difficult is it?

Seeing the number “50,000” might inspire some of the following thoughts:

1,667 words a day? I could that!

That’s only 1,000 words 50 times! I’ll just really buckle down.

At least, these are thoughts I’ve had during the last couple weeks of Octobers past. But the enormity of the task might be better described in different numbers.

When was the last time you wrote a 15,000-word story? Do that three times. Plus another 5,000-worder. In four weeks.

My work tends to run short. I create word count caps so I can push myself to reach them, not to maintain a limit. So those kinds of numbers send me cowering.

If 50k is a tall order for your life or work style, that doesn’t mean you can’t use the festivities of NaNo to reach exciting new writing goals. Especially if you don’t write regularly, some of these NaNo alterations can allow engagement with the challenge in a way that makes sense for you. Any work is better than none!

**Of course, it should be noted that if you try any of these ideas and do happen to hit 50k, you might want to think twice about officially claiming “winner” status on the website. But we’re all winners if we’ve written!**


Set a Personal Goal

One of the more standard NaNo edits, setting a personalized achievement goal is a great way to make NaNo more manageable. A realistic word count goal can help ensure that you will be productive throughout the month.

Finish It Up

Last year, I had about 17,000 words done for a novella. I knew where it was headed, but was dragging my feet. I decided NaNo would be my incentive to just FINISH it, regardless of word count. I only wrote about 13,000 words, but it was done!

Count It All

Write 50,000 words total — not just for one “novel.” Essays, reviews, poetry, short stories… count everything! Writing 50,000 words in general is an accomplishment, and all writing mileage is good for your craft.

This is probably what I’ll do this year. I’d like to stay committed to article-writing and book-reviewing, while also making some progress on the larger project.

A Dual Approach

If you want the challenge of a long piece but don’t want to commit to just one idea, write 25k for two novel ideas. Or two complete 25k novellas. Connect them or stand them alone!

Get Series-ous

Do a series of short stories: 5 at 10k each, or 10 at 5k, or 50 at 1k! Let your creativity loose: connect them by a broad prompt (a color, a word, a season), use recurring characters or places, try working in multiple genres.


In my opinion, NaNo is best utilized when it pushes your writing practice or helps you create one. Writing consistently is more important than writing a lot at one time. Help NaNo help you!

Happy writing, and good luck!