NaNoWriMo – How many Words per Day?

Deciding how many words per day to write during NaNo isn’t always straightforward. Not everyone can write every day, some people don’t have the same amount of time every day, and others need words put away ‘just in case’. Below are a few different plans for how many words to write each day.

The Usual
The traditional method of winning at NaNoWriMo has a plan of writing 1,667 words per day, every day. For many people this works wonderfully. It helps them set a daily writing habit, and encourages them to write more words than they would on a normal writing day. If you are someone who works well with consistency, is dedicated, and likes linear graphs, then this is the method for you.

I Need a Day off
Sometimes you end up with a schedule that no matter what you do you just can’t write every day. Maybe you have a class that eats up your free time every Tuesday, or you need a day once in a while to give your brain a break, or your spouse has declared Friday night date night. No matter the reason, if you need to be able to take one day a week off writing, then you need to write more than 1,667 words per day. My recommendation is to write 2,000 words each day. This gives you five days off through the month. That is one day a week (for that Friday night date), plus a bit of wiggle room. If you just can’t write every day but are also intimidated by large single day word counts, this is the method for you.

The 9-5
Sometimes having the same writing goal every day of the week doesn’t make sense. For example, I have a Mon-Fri job. When I’m at work I can’t write, because I have to, duh, work. Then when I get home I need to prep for the next day, spend time with the kid, and feed the family.

On the weekends though, I can be a lot more flexible with my time. I still have to do all the usual stuff, but I don’t have my job taking up such a big block of time. If you want to offload some of your writing to your weekend (or any two days of the week) you can easily do that. You might decide to write 1,400 words each workday, then 2,500 words each weekend day (1.5k and 2.2k also work well). This method is a great choice when you have time to write every day, but you have more time some days than others.

My Plan
I like to validate early. Often I aim to validate on the first day I can, (usually) the 20th. This year is my tenth NaNo, so I have a lot of practice and a very good knowledge of my writing speed. My plan for the month is to write 2,000 words each workday and 3,600 words each weekend day. With a few extra words here and there I should be done by the 20th. This plan is great for me, but could work for anyone who needs to offload words to the weekend and likes to finish a little early.

Graphing it out
Here are two graphs to show what these plans look like over the first week of NaNo. The first graph is the number of words each day, the second is the cumulative word count if you follow the plan.

Sample word plan graphs for NaNo

If you found this post helpful, you may want to take a look at my NaNoWriMo Series from last year. It includes a Tips and Tricks post to help you reach your NaNo word goals.

Do you have a plan for how much you are going to write each day in November? Do you aim for the standard 1,667 words per day or something else?

Edit: If none of these are quite right, another option to consider is a Reverse NaNoWriMo.


3 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo – How many Words per Day?

  1. Megan @ Ginger Mom November 16, 2017 / 4:01 am

    I think so many times, I start NaNo thinking it’s a great idea and that I have the perfect story idea (I still think that – lol). Then it fizzles. Book reviews, flat tires, kids, and the job got in the way. I still have things planned for the rest of the month, but I will pick my writing back up tomorrow morning. Round two, here I come!


    • NJ Fraser November 16, 2017 / 8:51 am

      It can be really hard to find the time. It is worth it, but a BIG time sink. I hope round two goes well for you!


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