How to Catch Up If You’re Behind on NaNoWriMo

Posted by on Nov 28, 2014 in NaNoWriMo | 2 comments

How to Catch Up If You’re Behind on NaNoWriMo

I find myself in an interesting position. It’s almost the end of November and I’m not yet at my word count. In fact, I’m about 10,000 words under where I should be for NaNoWriMo. I could chalk it up to the Dark Carnival releasing. Or perhaps my Grandmother falling ill, which has been really hard but she’s a fighter and has always been a strong woman. Or my crazy busy work schedule now that it’s considered the end of the year and I’m working over 60 hours a week. The old writer me would probably pat myself on the back and say, “Hey champ, you did the best you could. A for effort.” And then I’d scratch off another NaNo gone by.

Not 2014 Jolene. Oh no. 2014 Jolene is still going full speed ahead.

I already have a plan chalked up to finish. On time. And at 50,000 words.

I wanted to share with you 5 ways to catch up on your NaNoWriMo word count and still finish on time. You have three days to win. Three.

NaNoWriMo banner

1. Don’t stop! Somebody cue Miley Cyrus’s Can’t Stop Wont Stop whatever song or Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”! Whatever you do, you won’t finish if you give up. Never give up. Never surrender.

2. Write often. Break often. One of the best ways I get a crap ton of words written is when I implement my own personal mantra: Write Often, Break Often. I may write for ten minutes. Break for five. Write for ten. Break for five. It works well when you, you know, have a family or a dog or a super messy house that needs things tidied up. I write for ten. Then I stop and do dishes. I write for ten. I walk the dog. You get it? These small breaks let me think about where I’m going and keep me refreshed so that I can keep going, full speed ahead.


3. Set Goals. I know the average word goal a day for NaNoWriMo is roughly 1,667. If you’re behind like I am, you need to raise that bar to finish on time. Set realistic word goals for yourself. Ones that you can achieve. If you can write more on the weekend than during the week, balance out your daily goals.


4. Reward Yourself. Finishing NaNoWriMo should be enough, right? It is. Kind of. I mean, it’s a HUGE accomplishment and super stellar to even try, let alone win. But me personally, I also do well with personal rewards. Let me give you an example. When I was in high school, I loved to read and hated math. In order to get myself to read all of my math chapters, I’d line up gummy bears on the pages and eat them when I reached each section. That was my reward. I apply the same thing to my writing. It’s so easy to just let it go and busy myself with something else instead. Instead of that, I tell myself, if I finish this chapter, I get to watch another episode of Supernatural. Hitting my daily word count means that I can go grab that iced coffee I’m craving. Or I can eat that gummi bear. Whatever it is, if you’re like me and play even better when I have personal goals at stake, do it! Set those goals!


5. Grab Your Toolbelt! Just like a carpenter needs his tools, a writer need his or her toolbelt! Make sure you have plenty of refreshments and snacks (if that’s your jam), power outlets (if you’re writing on a computer), ample space, something to keep you warm, etc. Make sure you have everything you could possibly need to write and write well!


I have three days. Three (including today) until NaNoWriMo is up. I can do this. Can you?


Don’t stop believing,

Jolene Haley, Jolene Haley, @JoleneHaley


  1. (((squeeze))) sending healthy wishes for your grandma!! I’m behind, too. Onward!

  2. This is great advice and will help get me back on track. Thanks Jolene.

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