8 Ways to Make Time for NaNo

8 Ways to Make Time For NaNo-2

In a few weeks, the magic number is going to be 1,667. That’s how many words you need to write PER DAY to meet the 50k goal of NaNo. That’s how you write a novel — word by word.

Okay, but isn’t 1,667 words kind of a lot? It is! But it’s also totally doable. I’ve done NaNo more times than I can count, and I’ve officially won 4 times, so I’ve kind of learned how to make some extra room in my life for this novel that needs to be written insanely fast.

You’re not going to find this time lying around waiting for you (although how awesome would that be?), you’ve got to make time. So, here are 8 ways you can make more time for your novel during NaNo.

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National Novel Writing Month isn’t the most romantic way to write a novel. Just let me break it down for you.


  • Wake up just before dawn, feeling inspired and ready to write.
  • Stay up late at night writing by moonlight until the sun comes up and I feel rejuvenated
  • Get several uninterrupted hours to sit down at Starbucks with my pumpkin spice latte and my laptop, writing blissfully for half an hour.


  • Get up ten minutes early, resisting the urge to hit snooze, and scribble some words down on a piece of paper while I’m eating breakfast.
  • Fall asleep at night, my head still swimming with ideas, some of them which might make it into a notebook for the next day.
  • Get Starbucks and type a few lines in my Notes app inline while I wait for the venti coffee I plan on chugging.

I mean, some days, I might have a really awesome writing day! And that’s lots of fun. I hope you get those kind of days, too.

Bust most of the time, the muse won’t come knocking whenever its ready to deliver your 1,667 words for the day. Other days (most of the days, really, unless you’re a witch or a wizard) you won’t even “get” time to write. No, you’ll have to make it.

NaNoWriMo won’t work unless you do. It’s not going to be pretty, but it’s going to be worth it.

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If you’re about to shout “THAT’S A NO FROM ME” — hear me out for a second.

When I was in high school, I struggled with coming home from work/school/a full day of Hogwarts classes (okay jk but I wish) and writing. I was exhausted, and even if I had the time in-between a job and after school activities, it was tough to find the energy to write. Sound familiar?

That was me for, like, 5 years. Yeah. I would come home from school, try to motivate myself to write, and then just fall asleep on the couch.


If you’re coming to your writing drained, I highly highly highly suggest writing in the morning, when you have a clear mind you’re recharged. It’s hard to leave your warm bed at first (trust me, it still is) but the writing I get done in the morning is soooooo worth it.

What better way to start your day then by making your dreams come true?


I get stuff done. And for NaNo, you’ll have a lot of stuff to get done.

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I understand it’s supposed to be your break, but this is NaNo. To do something you’ve never done (like write a novel in 30 days) you have to try things you’ve never done (like alternating between eating a sandwich and typing a paragraph of your first draft.)

That being said, don’t skip lunch so you can write. (Ah, that’s the catch 22 of NaNo you have to be productive without burning yourself out) Consider carving out just 10 minutes from lunch (like the time you usually use to check your phone) and jotting down a few paragraphs. During NaNo, every bit helps.

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Getting the 1,667 every single day is tough. Trying to go to bed at the end of the day knowing you’ve only written 743 words is tough. Getting behind in NaNo isn’t fun, and it’s definitely a big blow to the morale.

If you try to hit 1,667 every single day, you’re going to stress yourself out. It’s really easy to get behind and decide to give up completely. In the end though, it’s not a sprint. You have an entire month worth of days to catch up.

During the month, build in a few days to play catch up. November You will really thank October You for setting aside a few days (or even a few extra hours each week) for November You to write. Be protective of this time!

Let yourself get behind, let life happen as it happens, and plan to catch up. It’s impossible for the world to stop spinning because it’s NaNo, so plan accordingly. (Also, how awesome would it be if November was like an international month-long holiday? Although we have Thanksgiving so that’s a good start)

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Yeah, you knew this suggestion was coming sooner or later, didn’t you?

When I wake up, I don’t reach for my phone and scroll through it for half an hour. When I get into bed at night, I don’t reach for my phone and scroll through it for half an hour. When my alarm goes off, I get out of bed and go write. When I get into bed for the night, I pick up a book and read.


Because guess what? The first thing I do doesn’t have to be looking at my phone. The last thing I do doesn’t have to be to looking at my phone.

Which I guess is a very long way to say: get ready to give up something during NaNo that is sacrifice-able, which is probably going to be your phone. (That sounds weird? Let me try again. . .)

Get ready to give up something that you don’t need:

  • Browsing through your phone to “relax” — You have a novel to write! Instagram can wait! (Although I do love instagram)
  • Netflix — Hmmmm hmmm. You knew this one was coming.
  • Makeup — This is kind of a personal one? But during NaNo I like to embrace my natural beauty and give myself an extra ten minutes to write instead of wiggling black goop onto my eyelashes.
  • Exercising — HEY WAIT A SEC. No, you can’t skip exercising for NaNo, nice try. To keep your mind in tip-top shape, you have to keep your body in some-kind-of-shape that’s not a couch potato.

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Word sprints are going to be your bff. Whether you have 10, 5, or less than 2 minutes, you can crank out more words than you had 10, 5, or 2 minutes earlier. And that’s kind of what NaNo is about. You write a novel word by word.

Look for itty-bitty pockets of time you have in-between the happenings of your daily life. Hint: if you’re looking at your phone, you probably have time to write. (Are you getting the sense that it’s possible your phone is going to be a really big time suck during NaNo?)

Here’s where you can look for little pockets of time:

  • 5 minutes before you run out the door for the day
  • When you get to class or work a few minutes early
  • After lunch when you’re not 100% ready to get back to work
  • 5 minutes before you go to bed

Not so hard, right? I’m a pretty fast typer, so when I sit down and do a no-frills cut-to-the-chase word sprint, I can get in about 300 words in 5 minutes. So even just one word sprint in the morning and one at night, that’s about 600 words.

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I once had a writer friend who hand wrote like 2 novels during November because she wrote during class. Which is crazy!

I have mixed feelings on this? Because if you are at school, you’re lucky to be getting an education. It’s a privilege that a lot of people don’t get, and it’s not something to be taken for granted.

That being said. . .

I’ve been there (I’m still there) and I’ve done that (I’m still doing that) and sometimes there are just THOSE classes. Yeah — you know the ones. If it’s going to benefit you more to work on your novel, then work on your novel.

I’m just throwing this suggestion out there, because it is a great way to get stuff written. But don’t take your education for granted, right?

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Right, so the only way to get words written during NaNo is to write words. I’m about to go all Shyla Buff(ish??) on you.

NaNo teaches everyone a secret about writing: the only way to write is to just write.

The muse won’t strike you with a lightning bolt of creativity.

The world won’t yield to your creative bursts.

An extra hour won’t appear in your day because you’re doing NaNo.

Writing is an art. It’s a craft. But in my opinion, writing is also a discipline. The people who get published are the people who don’t give up.

The only way to get your novel written during NaNo is to write it. Easy peasy lemon squeezey. There are no hacks or tricks — just hard work and your novel.

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Those are all the tips I have for today! I feel like it was a lot? Thank you so much for reading until the end, I wish I could give you some coffee!

Also, in case you didn’t notice, I changed up my color scheme a little bit! It feels more fall-appropriate and also a bit more my style? I want this blog to feel like a cozy coffee shop were we can just talk about books and writing.

I’m thinking about changing up my layout, too, so stay tuned and feel free to let me know what you think of these colors in the comments!

Let's Talk!

If you’re doing NaNo, how is your Preptober doing? Are you getting excited or nervous? What’s your #1 tip for finding time to write during November?


Author: Madeline Bartson

Writer, bookworm, Hufflepuff. Fueled by caffeine and writing dreams. I want to share tips, tricks, motivation & inspiration for turning dreams into reality.

14 thoughts on “8 Ways to Make Time for NaNo”

  1. I’ve outlined my NaNo novel but I’m still torn whether I will attempt NaNo or spend November revising another project. NaNo will definitely allow the old project to cool while I focus on a new project but at the same time, maybe I shouldn’t be distracted with something new until I get my revisions done. What to do? Life is full of difficult choices!! Good luck with NaNoWriMo!!!


  2. These are fantastic tips, thank you for sharing! ❤ I guess, with any kind of project like this, what matters the most is to try and make time for it all, no matter how busy our lives are. I don't know if I'll do NaNoWriMo because, despite what I'm saying right here haha, November is going to be a busy work month and I've been feeling in a writing slump for months and months now. I guess I'll see ahah, but thank you for sharing these great tips! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the kind comment, Marie! I think if you’re in a writing slump, NaNo is great because the atmosphere in the writing community during November is really positive and supportive. That being said, it’s also mentally taxing, so it’s a good idea to be in a good mindset before pushing yourself so much. Let me know if you decide to participate, I’ll be here to cheer for you! *waves flags and pompoms*

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah no, don’t dread it! I can type fast, but I can’t really think up a story fast, if that makes sense? Which is why outlining is really helpful for me. But that’s great — best of luck! I’ll be here all November if you need support lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fantastic tips (as usual), Madeline. I’m not doing NaNo, so I won’t be applying them there, but could definitely use some of these in my regular writing life. Especially the tip for not looking at your phone first thing in the morning. I waste so much of my creative time doing that. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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