How (Not) to Prep for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is almost upon us again! THAT’S A LITTLE BIT TERRIFYING. If you’re anything like me, you’re still under the assumption it’s August and in denial about all the things you still have to do this year. (It’s fine. Everything’s fine.) BUT! Because our lives aren’t hectic enough as it is, we have NaNoWriMo coming up next month!

For those of you that don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it takes place every November. People who take part usually aim to write 50k (though you can honestly choose any word count goal you like: no one will tell on you), which basically means November is a month where none of us see the sun, we live on ten coffees a day, and by the end of it, we don’t know what “sleep” is anymore. IT’S FUN.

Whether you’ve got a solid plan about how you’re going to tackle NaNoWriMo this year or if you’re not sure you’re going to be participating in it, I’ve made a helpful list of things you should not do if you want to survive. Trust me. Or, you know, if you wanna fail NaNo, be sure to follow my tips to a T!

To all of you getting ready to smash out a novel next month: GOOD LUCK. You got this!

Decide that you want to participate last minute.

Some of the best choices in life come out of spur of the moment decisions. You know I’m right. Deciding to get take out instead of cook on a whim? So good. That holiday that you booked last minute? Amazing. Deciding to write a whole novel in a month? YAS. YOU GOT THIS. Besides, all that time other people spend ruminating over their stories for months and years is totally irrelevant to you. You have the power of the LAST MINUTE DECISION to propel you into this questionable life choice. Whether its October 31 you decide to participate in NaNoWriMo, or even November 2, I believe in you.


Spend all your “plotting” time on Pinterest.

Pinterest is just the BEST, isn’t it?! You can literally find images of everything. An evil fairy queen wielding a sword? Yep. A badass assassin throwing flames with their bare palms? I’ve seen it. So instead of actually setting out the beats of your story in a document or something (#boring, am I right?) just collate a bunch of images of stuff you want to include on a Pinterst board. Nothing’s too out there. Everybody knows the coolest photos make for the best stories.


Watch a ton of writing vlogs for inspiration.

It’s not procrastinating if it’s educational. That’s just a fact. I know we can all fall down a YouTube rabbit hole from time to time, but trust me, this time it won’t be the same. At least… that’s what I always tell myself. And they’re super inspirational too! You can watch people write their NaNo novels like you’ll be doing, and see how much coffee they drink to survive the month, and—OOPS. Turns out you spent the whole month watching YouTube. Oh well. There’s always next year, right?

Cup of Coffee

Invest in a coffee machine.

COFFEE IS YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND. I don’t care if you think it tastes like dirt or if you’re more of a frappuccino person, coffee is the thing that will pull you through this month. Now I know heading off to Starbucks is going to be SUPER TEMPTING (because… ahem… procrastinating), but you just have to lock yourself in your house with a coffee machine. If you wanna make the experience more authentic, you can always get a Sharpie and write your name incorrectly on your mug. Get some caffeine into your system, folks.

notebook 5 with writing

Calculate how much you’re actually going to write.

Okay, so if you’re wanting to write 50k during November, you’re going to need to write about 1.7k each day. That’s fine. You got this. But then if you skip a day, suddenly your whole schedule is thrown off balance, but it’s not time to start panicking yet. Everything’s fine. That just might mean you have to write 6k today. Or 10k the next. Or, you know, 49k in one week because you’ve been procrastinating the whole time. AHAHA SEND HELP.


Create a writing playlist.

Sometimes you just need a massive blast of motivation to get you started with your writing sprint. What better way to do that than by creating a writing playlist to get you in the mood? This is a totally necessary step of the creative process and cannot be overlooked. How are you meant to fully get into your characters’ heads without finding the song that encapsulates all their dreams and fears and desires? How are you meant to write that perfectly cute kissing scene without a song that will put you in just the right mood to make the words flow? See? It’s essential. Feel free to spend an entire day on this step of the process… or an entire week. I won’t judge you.


Browse the interwebs to find the perfect outfit for your book launch.

And finally, one of the most important steps in the book-writing process is deciding what you’re going to wear to your book launch! Sure, you mightn’t have written a single word of this project yet, and sure, it might never be published. But hey! You gotta dream. Besides, what’s so bad about hopping online and adding that floral suit to your cart? Or that sparkly dress that looks like the night sky? You have to take the time to find an outfit that perfectly encapsulates all the themes of your book and this new author persona you’re going to present to the world. That takes TIME. Once you’ve got the perfect launch outfit, only then can you start writing your novel. That’s just what it means to be an author.


What are some of your top tips for surviving NaNoWriMo? What shouldn’t you do? Will you be participating in it this year? I’d love to know!


17 thoughts on “How (Not) to Prep for NaNoWriMo

  1. The biggest tip anyone can give is to find someone to shout at you to keep you on track. Preferably on real life so they can see you’ve been procrastinating and shout at you until you get back on track. That way you avoid all these bad things XD

  2. Hey Sarah 🙂 Loved this humorous post!
    I’m participating in Nanowrimo this year. One thing that I will be indulging in from this post is lots of caffeine (although I drink tea, not coffee!) I’ve also invested lots of time on Pinterest 🙂

  3. Hee Hee! My tip is to put a time limit on how long you’re on the NaNo message boards. I think I spent more time there than actually writing. Which is why I’ve never won NaNo.

    Gosh, I can’t believe it’s already November. I kind of wish I had plans to participate…

  4. Love this, especially: “You have the power of the LAST MINUTE DECISION to propel you into this questionable life choice.” I feel so seen! This is my first time doing NaNoWriMo and also my first go at a novel, so of course I signed up just a few days ago. What could go wrong?

  5. I am participating in NaNo “technically” for this first time this year. I’ve said I was going to participate before, but I always quit on or before day 1. I’ve been prepping quite a bit, and I can’t wait to participate this year!

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