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LCP Round Table: NaNoWriMo Routines and Word Counts

Loud Coffee Press reached out to past #NaNoWriMo winners for tips and tricks on how to rock this November. In this final portion of a three-part installment, our round table group discusses getting into the writing groove and how to recover when you fall behind.

LCP: Did you have a writing routine, or did you squeeze in words whenever you could find the time? Would you use the same process again?

Michelle Wright: A routine would be nice, but my life is busy, and other obligations often take precedence over writing time. Squeezing in words when I can is routine for me. Ideally, I would devote a set number of hours in my day to writing. Preferably at the same time each day. But I have small children, and it doesn’t always allow me to follow that routine. What I find works best is to make time to write every day, rather than waiting for the time.

Marian Rakestraw: I've completed NaNo lots of different ways. For the first few years I worked full time, had 2 younger children, and my spouse had a hellish schedule. I started out putting in all the words in one go, at night after the kids were in bed. These days I write in little pockets of time, usually in 15 minute increments. I keep a log of all my word sprints - how long and how many words I wrote. I'm on the slow end of the speed writing scale, but those 15 minute bursts of writing do add up. I try to have at least one day during the month where I write lots and lots of words. Sometimes this is at a writing marathon event. Sometimes it is just on my own.

Jaylyn McCoy: In an ideal world, I would sit down to write with a glass of wine and candles while instrumental music played in the background so I could really focus on my writing. More realistically, I take a few deep breaths, review my last scene and the general plot, and then take off whenever and wherever I can.

Natasja Eby: Life is too hectic with kids to try to keep a consistent routine (at least for me). So I just squeeze 'em in when I can.

CL Walters: My process was to consciously devote time to writing. By sticking to the routine, I was able to reach the 50K for NaNo. In past NaNo endeavors - when I was working full-time - I was squeezing in time here and there when I could. The most I've ever accomplished with that method was around 20K - which is still progress. I'm just able to accomplish more with intentional focus and dedicated time.

Neisa Rae: I usually wrote in the evening and night. I am a night owl, but I'm also a mom. Last year, I found it hard to write during the day, while taking care of him. However, he will be at school this year so I plan on trying to write more while he is at school and put that free time to good use! Hit up the library!

Sierra Dougherty: Yes, I had a routine, but I wouldn’t say it was the healthiest one. As a mom of five, I was too busy to write during the day. My routine was waiting until 8 pm (after my three youngest went to bed), grabbing my laptop, and typing like there was no tomorrow.

LCP: How did you recover if you missed a day of writing?

Marian Rakestraw: If I miss a day of writing it is okay. All work and no play makes Jane a dull girl. I pay the word debt back over a few days. Adding 300 words to my daily goal is less intimidating than adding all 1600 in at once. I also try to get ahead of the curve early on in the month. I'd rather keep a positive balance in my word count bank. I do know people who get a real rush from being behind. The mad dash to the finish line is a motivator for them.

Jaylyn McCoy: I strive to write every day, even if it's a single sentence. Gotta collect those badges, right? But if I'm falling behind, I use a day off and straight up neglect every responsibility I have so I can make up those words. If I still can't focus on the story, I write character sketches for the villain and side characters as well as background stories for the world I've built. That usually gets the juices flowing enough to return to the main storyline.

CL Walters: I didn't miss a day. I wrote everyday. However, if I was behind on word count, I wrote forward, then went back to the scene to see if I could add details (which always burgeoned the word count).

Natasja Eby: It might sound backwards, but I try to...I want to say "precover" my word count. On the days when I have a lot of time, I try to write way more words than I need for that day. Especially if I know I'll be busy the next day. It's a good technique.

Sierra Dougherty: Divide and conquer. NaNoWriMo is a personal journey. Despite having a goal of 50,000 words, the real goal is to write every day. If you’ve done that, you’ve already won NaNoWriMo. Whenever I missed a day I tried not to stress and divided the missed daily goal by three or four days. I did this with anything I missed even if it was only 100 words. That way I was only adding on a small chunk at a time. After missing a day, saying your goal is 2,167 words over the next three days vs. 3,334 words in one day makes a huge difference.

Michelle Wright: I find a day when I can minimize distractions. Then I write furiously without worrying about how much sense it makes. Nanowrimo is on a time limit. Procrastination is not your friend. Write now, edit later. I have also been known to skip difficult scenes and write the easier ones first. Then come back to the difficult ones later. I’ve written all my WIPs out of order because of this. It’s not for everyone, but it’s proven to be a great strategy for helping me reach a word count goal rather than writer’s block. The other thing is, I do little to no research during Nanowrimo. Research is very important, but I do it either before or after Nanowrimo and focus my 30 days on just writing.

Neisa Rae: I learned from my failed years not to panic over missed days. I had those. They're pretty much inevitable. I usually tried my best to catch up over the period of say the next two three days. If I had some time to myself, I would have a really long session and binge write until my brain was mush. But, seriously, as long as you are still writing that is what matters most! That is the whole point of NaNo — to get people writing.

Loud Coffee Press is grateful to our round table contributors for all of their time and expertise over these last three blog articles! We hope you’ll take the time to check out their writing at the locations listed below.


Sierra Dougherty - IG: @s_dougherty16 - Twitter: @s_dougherty16 -

Natasja Eby - IG: @natasjaeby - Twitter: @natasjaeby -

Jaylyn McCoy - IG: @nonsense_and_ramblings

Neisa Rae - IG @neisasnook - Twitter: @neisasnook -

Marian Rakestraw - IG: @marianrakestraw - Twitter: @marianrakestraw

CL Walters - IG: @cl.walters - Twitter: @peeledandcored -

Michelle Wright - IG: @michellewrite985 -

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