Welcome back to my 30-day series on preparing for NaNoWriMo. In my last post, I delved into what NaNoWriMo is and why you might want to jump in. Today, I want to talk about something crucial: setting realistic writing goals to make sure you can actually finish that 50,000-word novel in just 30 days.
Now, the default NaNoWriMo goal is writing 50,000 words during November. It’s not a random number; it’s challenging but doable. However, let’s be real: while this target works for many, it’s not a one-size-fits-all. November isn’t a month-long holiday. You’ll likely have work, school, family, and who knows what else to juggle. But guess what? These don’t mean you can’t participate; it just means your goals might need to be different. Look at your schedule and see how much time you can actually dedicate to writing each day.
Big goals can be intimidating. That’s why I recommend breaking them down into smaller chunks or milestones. If you’re aiming for 50,000 words, you can make it less daunting by breaking it down to 1,667 words a day. Alternatively, set weekly milestones like 12,500 words by the end of week one, 25,000 by week two, and so on.
Keeping tabs on how you’re doing is key. Use whatever works for you—a spreadsheet, a specialized writing app, or even a notebook—to track your daily word count. Seeing your progress can be a major motivator.
Here’s how I’ve tracked my progress for years – I make up a chart in Excel with my wordcount goal (as you can tell, I aim for anywhere between 50-100k words in November) and print it out. I then highlight how many words I do per day. Pink for one day, blue the next, and alternate. It’s simple, it’s low tech, and I love filling in those boxes haha!
So take some time today and think about your own goals for the month. Are you trying to finish a fantasy novel (100k words plus), a romance (50k) a piece of lit fic (80k) or a young adult novel (50k)? Don’t sell yourself short, either – millions of people have managed to complete their 50,000 word manuscript within the tight timeline of a single November. Why not try it?