How to THRIVE in November with Nanowrimo

Survival kits are really valuable, I particularly love Rachael Stephen’s Nanowrimo survival kit.

But I don’t want to just survive November, I want to thrive in it. I want to enjoy the experience, to be happy and healthy.

If I’ve written 50K words by the end of November, but I’m a desiccated husk of a human being, I’ll have failed. My mission is to write 50K words sustainably. So that I get to the end with a huge story and a huge smile.

So, how to do that?

Breaks! One zero day each week

Last week, I was planning for no zero days, and last week it worked.

But this week, I went straight from an intense week of working to travelling to another country. I know that it takes me 2 days to recover from such activity. I’m always surprised, but I know that it’s true. So, it was an achievement just to sort next day’s breakfast, brush my teeth and attend a virtual writing class. (So glad I did that, by the way, it was Aya de Leon’s class.)


I’ve been thinking a lot about what rewards might be helpful. I’m steering clear of food-based rewards.

Some rewards I gave myself in October:

Some rewards I’ve lined up for myself in November:

Writing resources

Writing class by writers: Aya de Leon, author & poet, and Grant Faulkner, executive director of NaNoWriMo, in conversation. Part of NaNoWriMo Prep Week 2018

I expect I’ll be attending fewer writing classes and not watching so many writing videos, but they’ll still be an important part of my writing journey. Because connecting with writers in this way motivates and inspires me. Lately, I’ve been using these videos as a reward for reaching my word goals. I plan to keep doing that to ensure I don’t use them to avoid writing. 

Tips & tricks: Helpful apps

Here’s the day I smashed my personal best by writing over twice as many words as I had before, since records began. So proud of myself. Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and Forest app helped get me there.

Anything that helps me get my word count in a sustainable way is great, including apps I try out sceptically, right? I was so surprised how much Forest app helped me, but help me it did. So, I’ll keep using it!

How it works: You set the time that you want to focus for. If you don’t use your phone in that time, it plants a virtual tree as a reward. If you do, you kill the tree that’s growing. Simple. Effective. Great!

Other apps I find helpful:

  • Insight Timer for all kinds of meditations (I mostly use it for the sleep meditations)
  • One Moment Meditation for super quick mediation
  • Music apps (I use Google Play Music and Amazon music). I’ve been listening to classical (Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess, Mozart’s Don Giovanni), anti-folk and pop

I’ll keep trying things I hear that people find useful and see if they work for me.


I’ve found setting goals so useful in October, and I plan to continue that into November. Sharing my goals and my progress here has been vital for helping me stay on track. So, I plan to continue with that too.

What I achieved last week

✔️ Write 1000 words daily

Sun, 21/10723
Mon, 22/10831
Tue, 23/101130
Wed, 24/10341
Thu, 25/10120
Fri, 26/100
Sat, 27/106054

I was aiming for 8500 words (3 days of 1500 and 4 days of 1000). I beat that. I’m counting this as a win 😊

I learned that being really strict about the number of words each days isn’t helpful for me. And having a break is necessary sometimes. Having daily goals helps me a lot, especially when I’m not motivated. (On Saturday, I was completely unmotivated, but I made myself write and it really paid off). Beating myself up about not reaching daily goals doesn’t help me. So long as I’m on track overall, it’s all good.

This weekend, I spent some time to modify my plan for November, based on how October’s been. Excited to start now!

✔️ Attend at least one virtual writing class – Mon / Wed / Fri

Smashed this one by attending all 3 of the writing classes this week 💥

🎯 Write poems in response to poetry challenge prompts

I did this last Sunday, but no other days. My plan to write the poems as part of my Morning Pages was supplanted by getting some more useful prompts. Dave Ursillo’s class How to Overcome Writer’s Block was so helpful for this. I’ve added his question: What have I been avoiding lately? to my pages now.

Dave Ursillo stands beside a slide deck that says: 'Writing Prompt: How do I cultivate the most supportive and nourishing writing environment in which I can't help but thrive?
Thank you Dave 🙏🏿

I’ve got more prompts for November on standby, but this just isn’t a priority for me. I’ll put a list of them in my Workflowy app, so they’re easily accessible if I want them tho.

✔️ Publish article on my experiences of Preptober for NaNoWriMo

Here it is!

🎯 Place a groceries delivery order

Nearly forgot about this one… I’ve been adding things to my online basket, but not checked out yet. Set myself a reminder to make sure I do tomorrow so that I’m well stocked for November.

What I’m aiming for next week

  • 🎯 Write 10000 words weekly – adjust my plan whenever I write significantly more or less than I expected
  • 🎯 At least one Artist Date weekly – ideally, three
  • 🎯 Do one nice thing for myself every day – write it down in my activity planner

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