Balancing NaNoWriMo & life

NaNoWriMo is swiftly approaching. What is NaNoWriMo? It’s a 30-day challenge to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. This challenge occurs every November. Writers around the world will be busy typing frantically, bringing their stories to life. As if that wasn’t challenging enough, toss in all of your normal life tasks as well. It sounds difficult, doesn’t it? Balancing NaNoWriMo & life is not impossible. After all, we are capable of so much.

You have your NaNoWriMo survival kit ready and you have done what you could to prepare for a month of writing. But the question still remains, how do you balance NaNoWriMo and life?

Balancing NaNoWriMo & life

Make writing a priority

I talked about this earlier when discussing balancing NaNoWriMo & blogging, so I won’t go into too much detail. The point is, that you must make writing your priority. This means changing your mindset to that of a writer. There is a story inside you that needs to come out. To do so, you must focus on this task, giving it your all.

Schedule a time to write

There is no one perfect time to write. That is something that each writer must decide on their own. Perhaps you want to get it all done in the morning, leaving the rest of your day to work and family. Or, maybe you would prefer to write during the evening when everything is quiet and you can fully concentrate on creating words.

Just remember, to be flexible with your writing time. You are, after all, trying to find a balance between NaNoWriMo and your life. While you may want to only write at night, there will be times when something comes up in the evening that is unavoidable. Accept that this can and will happen and be ready to shift your writing time when needed.

Plan ahead for everything

Admittedly, not everything in life can be planned in advance. There will inevitably be events that pop up that may need your immediate attention. However, do your best to plan ahead as must as you can before you start writing.

One aspect of life to plan ahead is your meals. Knowing what you will be eating well in advance will make your life so much easier. Creating a monthly meal plan is an easy task and takes away the stress of deciding last minute what to eat every night. If at all possible, plan to have some meals cooked by others. If you live with or near family, then they can help take on the burden of cooking while you focus on your writing.

What about childcare, laundry and other aspects of life? These too can be planned for. If you have a school-aged child, then plan to do most of your writing while they are at school or after they have gone to bed. Should you have younger children, then perhaps consider putting them in daycare for a few hours or having a family member watch them.

When it comes to household chores, find a way to reduce your load if at all possible. Designate family members to help out with several or all of the household chores for the month. For those who may not have those who can help with these tasks, try to plan ahead for them. Can you do less laundry for the month? Only washing the absolute necessities. Perhaps you can do a deep clean of the house now so that you only need to do minimal cleaning during November. A lot will depend on your situation and how busy life is for you.

Start your day early

I know, I know! All my fellow night owls are cringing at this. But, hear me out. Waking up a bit earlier than normal will help you balance your writing and life. Even if it’s 30 minutes early. That extra bit of time will allow you to get tasks done around the house before your dedicated nightly writing time. Who knows, you may even find yourself suddenly inspired to write in those first minutes of the day.

Tackle tasks while on writing breaks

Taking writing breaks is important. I try to aim for a 15-20 minute break every hour. This gets you away from the computer, gives your eyes and fingers a read, and most importantly lets your mind relax. Crank up the tunes and go dust the living room. Or put on a load of laundry. Then, during your next break, you can hang the laundry or toss it into the dryer. Using these breaks for life’s little tasks will ensure that you keep up with your household routine while not having to sacrifice your writing time.

Alternatively, if you are an incredibly busy person trying to find time to write, use your breaks from chores to do some writing. Once you are done with a task at home, give yourself a few minutes to write. It doesn’t matter if you write 15 or 500 words. Every single word puts you that much closer to your word count goal.

Use writing sprints to maximize your writing time

There are always writing sprints happening during NaNoWriMo. While this does mean being somewhat active on social media, they are a great way to do some major writing in short bursts. The key is to not be distracted by the lure of social media while sprinting. Merely check the sprint account, set a timer for the sprint and get writing. Once the sprint is over, you can share your word count for the sprint or merely wait for the next one to be announced.

The two sprint accounts I use the most are NaNo Word Sprints and Get Wordies. NaNo Word Sprints is great for shortly writing periods, usually 5-20 minutes long. Though they do occasionally do longer sprints. The account is writing sprints day and night, so no matter your timezone there will be sprints available to you. While not always active, Get Wordies tends to run longer sprints.

Another account is Friday Night Writes. As the name would suggest, they only run sprints on Friday. However, I find these are some of my favorite sprints as they are almost always 30 minute and 1 hour-long sprints.

Balancing NaNoWriMo & life is possible. Sometimes, it means cutting back on certain tasks or shifting them onto others. Perhaps it simply means taking on more responsibilities and making time for it all. What are you doing to help keep everything going while participating in NaNoWriMo?


  1. Our library used to host NaNoWriMo every year, but sadly, no one ever came to write. Of course, I attribute this lack of attendance to the crappy, little boring set-up we made. lol My library system was kinda lame–but it could have been SO cool.

    I have yet to participate in NaNoWriMo, but I’d love to, especially since some pretty famous books came out of it. I love the idea.

    Thanks for all of the great tips–which really fit well for life in general.

    This year, we started weekly meal planning, which is AMAZING for the grocery bill, my sanity, and time. I love your idea about breaks too. Sometimes I sit for HOURS writing, and then when I look up, I’m burnt or frustrated. I need to take breaks like you mention.

    1. That’s a shame that no one ever showed up. I wish there were local writing meetups, but admittedly I probably wouldn’t go thanks to my social anxiety. Regardless, it would be nice to have the option.

      You should give it a try sometime! It’s quite fun.

      Meal planning is such a great thing to do. We used to do weekly meal plans but have found that monthly ones work better for us. I’m guilty of not taking breaks as well. That’s why I set timers now and force myself to get up when it goes off.

  2. Great tips! I really need to remember to take more breaks!

    1. Thanks. I find setting a timer works well if you aren’t in the habit of taking breaks.

  3. After reading your last post on balancing NaNoWirMo and blogging I was so interested in NaNoWirMo, I actually done some reading up on it. These are some great tips for anyone taking on NaNoWirMo this year.

    Jordanne ||

    1. Happy to hear it got you interested in NaNoWriMo. Perhaps one year you will give it a try.

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