NaNo Tip #3: Quick and Nimble Wins the Race

Okay, let’s take a moment to address the elephant in the room: Who’s behind?  *raiseshand*  Who’s way behind?  *keepshandraised* Who’s so far behind that you can’t catch up?  PUT YO HAND DOWN!

That’s right, we’re behind.  All of us.  (Yes, except you, you one exceptional person.  You much better than the rest of us.  Go publish something already.)  But most of us are behind.  That’s pretty much what NaNo means.  Also, most of us want to catch up.  Because that’s also what NaNo means.

The NaNoWriMo webpage presents you with a little stats page for your novel where you update your “progress” and keep track of how many words you must write per day to finish on time.  That number starts at 1,667 and goes up seemingly every day as we fall short of it.  *sigh*  We’ve seen it before.

The 1,667 approach to NaNo works really well in theory.  1,667 isn’t actually a lot of words per day (or at least not an insanely unreachable goal) and the steady advancement of the goal line on your graph seems attainable.  Until day two, anyway.  But eventually, it starts to pull away from the words you’ve actually written.  You missed a day because you were sick, at school, had a lousy day at the office, etc.  Now you’re behind, and you must write 1,724 words a day.  And the number will keep going up.

Eventually you’re going to get so far behind, (or are so far behind) that your daily word goal is unattainable.  Does that mean it’s time to give up?  A clue: No.

When it’s time to make up ground in NaNo, it’s time to forget about the day-by-day method.  NaNo may have been built to be a steadily paced event, but it’s won by spurts of the quick and nimble.

If you’re behind, you need to catch up, and you need to do it before November 30th.  Pick a day this week, one you haven’t committed away to something else, and clear out the morning.  Or the afternoon.  Or the evening.  Make it NaNo time.  Then, once you’ve cleared yourself three or four hours, sit down and write.

If you’re like me, you don’t usually write for that long, but NaNo success demands adaptation.  Only the quick and nimble survive.

There you have it, that’s all for this week.  Winning NaNo isn’t done gradually.  It’s done in the moment.  Clean yourself out a big chunk of the moment and get yourself caught up.  (And don’t forget to stock up on your favorite snack food to help you push through.)

Good luck, see you next week, and let me know how it goes!


Photo: Keep Running, Saree Young, CC BY SA NC 2.0

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Raised on C.S. Lewis and matured (to whatever extent) on Tolkien, Brandon Miller is a huge fan of Christian speculative fiction. His favorite stories artfully bend the physical reality to reveal spiritual realities which apply to all realms, kingdoms, districts and solar systems (including our own.)
When not writing fiction Brandon spends his time tending his blog The Woodland Quill, sportsing, or just struggling through that last-year-of-high-school/first-year-of-college which is really neither but is definitely both.


  1. J.A.Penrose November 14, 2017 at 1:01 AM - Reply

    Hahaha, that’s pretty good advice. i’m on top of my NaNo-ing, but mainly due to a ton of Word Wars, and from trying to beat my top number of words in a day. It really can be fun to have one or two people write together trying to write 10k in a day. Or 15, depending on your level of insanity. (10k is possible, and I reckon 15k is as well!)
    Thanks for the tip!

    • Brandon November 14, 2017 at 5:57 AM Reply

      SHHHHHH! Competition is on my list! 😝

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