Approaching Your Daily NaNoWriMo Word Goals

Fifty thousand words. 50,000. 50K. No matter how you write it, it looks intimidating. I’m supposed to write how much in a month? NaNoWriMo – while much anticipated – is also very much feared. A novel in thirty days sounds nearly impossible to most writers. Even to those of us who have won NaNo before. 50,000 is a big, daunting number. Look at all those judgmental zeros, just staring at you!

I’m not going to lie to you here and tell you that there’s an easy way to do it. Writing a whole story in a month, while remembering to eat and sleep, is hard! At least for most of us. Some people churn out 10K words in a day (if you’re one of those people, you can leave now. I can’t even look at you through my procrastination and shame). But, since we’re half way through NaNo now and some of us are slowing down our pace, I figured I should post some tips on how you can approach your word counts each day and help you inch your way toward your 50,000 word goal.

First (and most importantly), if you find yourself struggling to sit down and stay focused long enough to write, make sure you’re participating in word sprints. As far as actually getting the writing done, I can’t recommend sprints enough. Word sprints give me the push I need to concentrate and sit down long enough to get a couple hundred words down.

Now about how to approach that daunting 50k… let’s start by breaking that number into something a bit less intimidating. Watch out everyone, Taylor’s going to do basic math – this only happens about once every ten years.

50,000 per month
12,500 per week (roughly)
1,667 per day

Now, writing 1,667 words per day doesn’t seem so bad, right? I mean, it’s definitely nothing to sneeze at, but it’s less than 2,000! For many, that’s doable in under two hours. That’s not horrible.

Are you still a bit apprehensive about how you might make your 1,667 each day? Are you like me and panic at the idea of sitting in front of a computer monitor for hours without so much as producing a hundred words? Well, consider breaking up your daily word goal into even smaller bits (oh my gosh, more math… I might pass out).

2 sessions of 834 words
3 sessions of 556 words
4 sessions of 417 words

Now I realized that some of you don’t write every day. Be it time constraints or your own personal preferences, you might not write a word for days, only to bust out a cool 6,000 in one sitting. However you choose to distribute the words between days and writing sessions is up to you! Just be wary of falling too far behind and losing motivation.

But in case you do find yourself in the last week of November, cowering in fear of the impossibly large wall of unwritten words you’ve accumulated, don’t fear! We’ll make sure to deliver helpful posts that’ll be certain to reignite your motivation and get you to the finish line with your victorious 50,000 words (or more)!


How do you approach your 50,000 words for NaNo? Do you write when you can? Or do you carve out time and make sure to meet a daily quota? Let us know in the comments bellow.

And don’t forget to join us for word sprints @TheSprintShack to up your word count!


9 thoughts on “Approaching Your Daily NaNoWriMo Word Goals

  1. Great advice, Taylor! (Warning: lengthy comment cometh…)

    I totally agree with breaking down your word count into smaller goals and using sprints to help you reach them. My 10k day last week gave me a new perspective on word count goals. When you’re aiming for a big word count in a short amount of time, targets for each sprinting session become very important. If you have a minimum word count to aim for (mine was 800 words per 30 minute sprint), reaching your target becomes so much simpler. Now I set myself a goal every sprint, rather than blindly writing “as much as I can” (which often ended up as “not very much” because I had no incentive to reach a certain number).

    How do you break down your daily/sprint session goals?

    • This. I sat down the other day and kind of tapped along the keyboard for a few sprints, knowing I’d catch up or even get ahead without much effort. But then I decided “You know what–I want to hit that 25k mark TONIGHT. I have to be in bed in an hour, and I have 2.5k left to make that mark. I’m going to start a one-hour sprint and set that 2.5k as my goal.”

      And because it seemed a little crazy, it really got me writing. I hit 2.7 in that hour and even beat my own personal record: 1400 in the first half hour. Having a goal makes all the difference… which I guess is what NaNo is about!

    • Oh exactly! I find myself doing this while sprinting if a particular sprint is going slow. If my goal for the entire day is 3k, I tell myself I have to get at least 500 words per sprint. And at the very worst, I’m absolutely not allowed to get lower than 300 words. In this way I’m slowly chipping away at my goal!

  2. Well written article. Agree with the concept of breaking down the goal into smaller increments. As with any big task, I think that works best. This was my first NaNo experience and I didn’t have a plan beforehand. I honestly didn’t think I would make it with everything else going on. I was fortunate enough to not only have a few days of being home sick, but to also be inspired at the same time. My creativity and free time are often on opposing schedules. I think the 50k goal is very much a marathon and I think marathon runners prefer not to spend the entire race thinking of the finish line, but rather take it one mile marker at a time. The journey is much more manageable that way.

    • I love the reference to marathon runners! One of my favourite books on writing and motivation is ‘Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live To Tell About It)’ by Rochelle Melander. She has a fantastic marathon sign quote in there, which I think fits with NaNoWriMo just as it does running a marathon:

      “It’s not 26.2 miles. It’s 10 water stops.”

  3. “Now I realized that some of you don’t write every day. Be it time constraints or your own personal preferences, you might not write a word for days, only to bust out a cool 6,000 in one sitting. However you choose to distribute the words between days and writing sessions is up to you! Just be wary of falling too far behind and losing motivation.”

    I feel like this paragraph was written with me in mind. *hangs head in corner*

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