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NaNo Prep in 4 Simple Steps - Step 4

Check out the previous steps:

  • Step 1 - Bulk Up Your Inspiration, by clicking HERE.

  • Step 2 - Put Flesh on the Bones, HERE.

  • Step 3 - Setting the Stage, HERE.

Here comes the hard part. Making time to write.

Step 4 - Plan to Write

This is one of the most common excuses I hear from humans when it comes time to write that book they've always wanted to write. As someone who finished their first ever, full-length novel (just over 50K words) in 22 days (I started Nov. 8th that year), all while:

  • working a full-time job that involved a 45-minute to hour-long commute, five days a week,

  • going to grad school full-time (three evening classes a week),

  • single-parenting an active high-school student who was involved in theater and step-club practices, shows, and competitions, and

  • attempting to live my best life socially (ie. going out almost every weekend),

I consider that "I don't have time" excuse to be, if I may be blunt, bullsh**.

That's not to say being busy isn't a thing. I'm saying instead, that regardless of your obligations, you can indeed find and make time to write. You just need to do so strategically. Let me explain.

*Warning, this does include math...


Grab your calendar for November. Block off any DAYS you know for sure you won't be available to write. I'm talking about where you know you're going to be otherwise occupied for 10 hours or more. For me, that's Sunday as I take Sundays off for self-care. I may still write, but more than likely I'm going to be in my PJs, relaxing around the house; letting my brain rest up for the week ahead.

Next, drill down a level. Write in the time blocks that are already committed. Here, I'm referencing:

  • work schedule (include get ready and commute times in those blocks)

  • appointments

  • family commitments

  • special events

  • time for sleep

  • study schedule

  • date night

Indicate the times during each day that you are already booked.

Notice, things like laundry, cooking dinner, doing dishes, etc. are not on the list. Here's why. Many of the day's chores can be delegated or in some cases, postponed, in order to make room for writing. The tip here is to block off things that are vital to maintaining your mental, emotional, and physical health.


And Now, We Math. Oh, and actually PLAN out a writing schedule.

So, as you look at the calendar, you should see open spaces - hours that you might normally fill with mindless scrolling or binge-watching but instead, for the duration of NaNoWriMo, you're going to intentionally get in some writing sessions. Don't panic, I'm going to show you how to maximize your sessions so you can still squeeze in a few episodes of House of the Dragon...or whatever it is the cool kids are watching these days. For me, it's season four of The Dragon Prince but I digress.

Start off with your total word goal. For simplicity, I'm using the NaNo standard of 50 thousand words (50,000). In order to meet that goal, NaNo recommends you write 1,667 words a day. That would be great if you actually had a full 30 days to write. But as you've already sussed out, you do not.

Note all calculations have either rounded up or dropped the decimals. Keeping things simple around here, of course.

Using my calendar as an example, once I chop off all of the Sundays, I'm down to 26 Days. That means, in order to hit my goal, I need to write 1923 words per day.

50,000 ÷ 26 = 1923

Having done a timed writing session, I've figured out I can handwrite 100 words in five minutes. Thus, to meet my word goal each day, I need to fit in 19, five-minute writing sessions.

1923 ÷ 100 = 19

How to Set Up Your Writing Schedule:

1. Take your total word count goal (use the following for a guideline) and divide by the number of days you have available to write.

Suggested DRAFT Word Counts by Genre/Audience

Adult novel: 50,000 - 70,000 words.

Adult Epic novel: 80,000 - 90,000 words.

Young adult: 55,000 - 70,000. Summarized from How to Write a Book Now website.

2. Set a timer for five minutes, then write/type. Suggest you use your NaNo project to inspire what it is you write; use this to generate your opening paragraph or describe your main character. When the timer goes off, count your words. This is the five-minute word count you'll use in Step 3.

3. Divide your daily word goal by your five-minute word count to get the number of five-minute writing sprints you need to fit into your day.

4. Plan your week/day to include as many 5-minute sessions as will fit. Combine sessions into one big chunk when you have time. Or, just leave them as 5-minute quickies sprinkled throughout the day. And yes, this is life so when something unexpected comes up, just adjust your sprints to fit your new availability.

It's important to jot down your word count by day's end so you know how many sessions to add if you're behind or skip when you're ahead, in the next day's schedule.


If you found this to be the most confusing step of all, or need a bit more help putting your entire project plan together, please book your one-on-one strategy session with me. I'll answer any prep questions you have as well as help you put together a writing schedule. Use the button below to go straight to my appointment book. Sessions are $40 for 90 minutes; we can meet safely in person if you're in the ATL metro area or virtually.

That's it!


Now for the fun part...getting the writing done.

Here on the blog, I'll have weekly writing prompts and timed writing sessions you can use to keep you on track toward meeting your word goal for the day. Sessions are 10 minutes each.

On my YouTube channel, I'll be hosting15-minute timed sessions. Subscribe and join me on Thursdays, 11:00 am, EST for more writing motivation.

Whether you're participating in NaNoWriMo or not, if you're planning to write, then I hope these steps were helpful! Let me know in the comments - are you working on a writing project or at least planning to soon? What do you think of these writing prep steps, did I leave anything out?

Until next time, sending light & inspiration,


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