My NaNoWriMo Strategy: How I Plan to Overcome Writing Obstacles Next Month

Photo by Iga Palacz on Unsplash

I am continuing to prepare for my NaNoWriMo challenge. My latest mission has been to try to foresee the biggest obstacles that stand (or could potentially stand) in the way of me completing my target number of words.

Dealing with “Running Out of Ideas”

When I tried NaNoWriMo before, I started off strong with all of my ideas but about halfway through the month, those ideas were all used up.

Last night, I typed up the outline for this year’s novel that I wrote in one of my notebooks and saved it in Scrivener. This way, I can reference it easily throughout November as I work towards my word count.

My next step with this outline is to break it up into scenes (as many as I can) and create an even more detailed outline that I can use day-to-day during the challenge. If I reach a point where I feel stuck without an idea, I can find a scene to write about.


As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the other reasons I failed during my last attempt was because I got overwhelmed by having to world build at the same time as cranking out 10,000+ words a week.

To combat this issue, I’ve been keeping a running log of all the world-building questions that come to mind as I’m planning, such as:

  • How am I going to deal with languages? The main character speaks English and crosses a portal into another world. Do those other worldly characters speak English? Does she speak their language?
  • Does time pass the same in both worlds?
  • What are the limits of “magic” in my novel? What prevents the antagonist from simply destroying his enemies in one fell swoop?
  • What are the logistics of traveling through portals? How will the nature of this travel be explained logically in my story?

Feeling Like I Can’t Write

I expect to find hindrances along the way during my journey in November. I know that I will have days where I am tired, days where I am bored, and days where I feel just too busy to write. Knowing this already, I am creating strategies to default to when I encounter these obstacles.

  • Feeling tired – I am going to allow myself more coffee than usual during this month (I usually try to limit my intake each day), but most importantly, I am going to make sure I have realistic exprctations about my sleeping habits. For example, if it is 10:30 p.m. (a but past my bedtime on a normal night) and I am not getting much writing done, I am going to go to sleep instead of wasting time. Staying up even later when you are alreadt exhausted is counterproductive. I find I don’t accomplish anything if I am too tired, and staying up longer just puts me further from being capable of writing. If my body needs sleep, I will listen to that need by going to sleep and waking up earlier the next day. I learned this trick in college. Pulling all nighters can help you meet one deadline, but it is impossible to do so for an entire month, over and over. You will burn out very quickly.
  • Feeling bored/not in the mood to write – Whenever I encounter this emotion, I plan to battle through it by referencing my reasons for attempting NaNoWriMo. I am creating my list of reasons this week (creating an actual physical copy) and will keep the list handy during my writing sessions. Being able to say I have completed my first novel is one pretty big motivator!
  • Feeling too busy – This obstacle is the most likely. I work a full-time job and cannot handle having a messy home. I also have my adorable dog that demands (and deserves) lots of attention. I am going to take steps to be more efficient with time, including doing laundry during my writing sessions, having Instant Pot recipes on hand, and trying my hardest to be okay with not vacuuming as much as I like.
  • Feeling like I am neglecting my friends and family – I am going to communicate better with everyone this year. It is one thing to tell people you will be writing a lor for the next few months, but I think people understand more if you break it down that you will be writing multiple hours every day. That being said, I will use social time as an opportunity for a writing break but will be sure to limit them. I am going to work on saying “no” to people without feeling guilty.

Preparing for the Unexpected

I expect to encounter even more obstacles next month than I can prepare for. So my very last plan is going to be preparing for the unexpected. I am sure I will get sick or have to travel or work late, but I am going to check in with myself to develop a way to bounce back from these issues. I could write extra the next day or more over the weekend (which I already expect to be the case).

Most importantly, I refuse to be hard on myself this year. If I get behind one day, I will not give up and assume the entire month is lost, as can be my thought pattern sometimes.

November will be a time of learning about myself and figuring out how I can help myself write 50,000 words in 30 days, how I can overcome my own weaknesses and learn more about what I need to write.

We are only six or so days from the start of Nanowrimo, and the week ahead will include even more planning. I will continue to provide updates on my progress and share what I have learned. I always welcome readers’ ideas as well, so please leave a comment if you would like to share any tips!

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