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  • Writer's pictureDonna Norman Carbone

NaNoWriMo Rebel: What I do when I don’t have time to write


In just ten more days, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) commences, but I’m up to my eyeballs in author To Dos and I have the first (ish) draft of novel three staring me in the face, begging to be revised. While I would love to forget all my should dos to lose myself in a brand-spanking-new story where I can dream up new characters and imagine a world in which they exist, I will use the month (and the promise of the commitment) to carve out time to revise my WIP.


Just like I do when I’m writing during November, I’ll divide up the word count goal for the month (50K words) by the number of days in the month (30) to come up with a daily revision count goal (1,667 words). Call me a rebel, if you will, but I’m choosing to call myself practical. My goal over the grand scheme of the month is to have a semi-polished draft ready to workshop with my critique partners.




I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2012. It’s a gift to give to myself, really. I let my family and friends know what I’m working on so they don’t feel slighted and I lean into the project. It’s been working for me. Last year, I wrote the WIP I am about to revise. And, five years ago, I wrote the first draft of book two, Of Lies and Honey, which is set for release next year. I can’t say that every year I’ve participated that the result was a jewel of a book to one day become publishable. But, no year, no 50K word draft has been wasted. For each, I’ve experimented and honed my craft.


Will you be joining me? As a writer? Or a rebel reviser? You owe it to yourself to at least try!


  • Plan as much as possible ahead of the month, so you aren’t grappling for ideas

  • Write through the mundane, add part of your day and make it part of the story if you have to

  • Let go of perfection; accept that most of your story won’t be polished at all–keep writing (through the crap)

  • Always end a writing session in the middle of a scene or chapter, a place where you know where it’s going when you return to writing in order to alleviate writers block

  • Do a word sprint. Set a timer for 30 minutes, or so, and write as many words as you can in the time

  • Do a word sprint challenge with writing friends to see who can write the most words

  • Use the NaNoWriMo site to chart your words; seeing that word count graph rise is motivation

  • Commit to 1,667 words a day. On a day you are in the zone and/or have extra time, write more to bank them for a day when life gets in the way

  • Set weekly goals for yourself and reward yourself when you meet them

  • Most importantly, have fun!




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