Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly

NaNo NoNo: How to Cope When You Can’t Write a Novel in November


A disappointed child with her face in her hands. She'll grow up to be a writer, you mark my words.

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

I have participated in several years of NaNo WriMo and thoroughly enjoyed each novel. I’ve also written plenty of posts on writing tips for November.

However, this particular year I find myself in a different situation. I’m too ill to participate.

The decision wasn’t a hard one. I’d expected to agonize over whether to do it or not. I’d expected to battle the pull of the daily word count and the fresh characters. But I thankfully made the transition to a Non-NaNo-er without too much emotional upheaval.

I know I’m not the only person who can’t participate in NaNo WriMo this year. So for all those of you who haven’t been able to join the hoards, I share the following tips with you.

Realise You’ll Be Disappointed

It’s okay to feel miffed, disheartened or even depressed that you can’t participate. It’s natural to have a downer when you’re not able to achieve a goal or do something you’ve planned.

Give yourself a little time to sulk, but sulk to a deadline. Set a date at which time you will emotionally move on from your disappointment. You can mope until that day, but on that day you willย find yourself something to move on with.

Insulate Yourself If Need Be

Pay attention to things that bring back your negative feelings. If watching other people update their word counts on Twitter sends you into the doldrums, then you may have to avoid reading your twitter feed for a few weeks.

Remember, NaNo WriMo doesn’t define you as a writer. You define what you are as a writer. In that capacity, it’s your job to protect yourself from negative influences.

Set Yourself a New Goal

You’re not able to write 50,000 words on a novel this month, but here’s an opportunity to find another goal you could set yourself. Perhaps you could plan to write 250 words per day, or 500 words per day.

Perhaps you’re editing instead. Can you set a goal to spend an hour a day editing?

Find something to replace the goal you’ve given up. Work towards it. Channel your excitement into that project instead.

Get Out and Enjoy Life

One of the best things about NaNo WriMo is the sense of community, of participating in something people all around the world are doing. So look for ways you can replace that with another community effort.

Perhaps you can join your friends in a project together. Or maybe you can participate in a day activity with some locals.

Even if you just get out of your house and visit a local sight, you’re enjoying life – and life is a project each one of us around the world is working at.

What are your tips for coping with not being able to participate in NaNo WriMo?


Author: Jessica

I'm a writer who refuses to pin myself down to one genre, hopping from science-fiction and fantasy through to literary and even the odd western now and then. Check out what I've written at or follow me on Twitter @jessbaverstock.

6 thoughts on “NaNo NoNo: How to Cope When You Can’t Write a Novel in November

  1. Ooh I love this post – so positive ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. NaNoWriMo was not possible for me this year (I’ve broken my right wrist in two places). I just accepted this because it is so obvious. It is much harder on me not to be able to write at all — not to jot down a phone message, make a list, journal. I read a lot and think “This, too, will pass.” And I use my limited left-hand typing to post a gratitude statement on Facebook everyday: I can still see, hear, walk, etc.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your wrist. That must be painful!

      It is very frustrating not to be able to write when you want/*need* to. I like your alternatives though. Reading fills your creative well, which eventually helps you write *more* when your wrist becomes usable again. Until then, it’s always helpful to remember the good things we still have.

      I hope your wrist heals soon! Thanks so much for the comment! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. “Sulk to a deadline.” I love that–and it is such good advice. Hope you feel better soon, Jessica.

    • I can’t remember where I first heard that advice. I think it was talking about what to do after you receive edits or a critique. It’s natural to feel upset, so you give yourself the time to pout. But after a certain point it holds you back, so you set a deadline and then get going again.

      Thanks for your comment. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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