NaNoWriMo Series: Pace Yourself

October 30, 2017
Keri Horan
Riveted Editorial Board

We’re officially Two days away from the start of NaNoWriMo! How in the world did that happen?? It’s time to get serious, so we’re bringing you some seriously helpful tools this week.


If you haven’t seen the rest of our NaNo Prep, you can find tons of tools, tips, and tricks in these posts–everything from what type of software fits you best, to where you should sit down to hit your daily word count.

In the past few weeks, I’ve learned that writing a novel and training for a marathon are pretty similar processes (more on that later). One of the first things you need to decide after committing to a race is what your goal pace is. After you’ve set your goal, you need to find a pacing guide that will help you get there. For running, there are TONS of training plans and pacing guides. Not so many for writing novels. Pacing is the name of the game for NaNo, though, so we thought we’d create a few guides for you!

Pacing Guides

Even Steven:
Use this guide if you want to write the same number of words every day: 1,667.

Weekend Warrior:
This guide is perfect if you don’t want to have to write any words during weekdays.

Weekday 500:
If you want to write every day, but know you won’t have a lot of time during the week then this guide is for you. You can probably write 500 words in a half hour or so, but you’ll need to really buckle down on the weekends to stay on track for 50k.

Weekday 750:
Another guide for those of us who don’t want to have to write a lot during the work/school week, but may be able to commit more than a half hour a day. This guide is also heavier on the weekends, but not as bad as the 500-a-day plan.

Weekday 1,000:
This guide is good for those of us who want to write the same amount every day but know we probably won’t be able to. This plan allows you to stay fairly steady but catch up a bit on the weekends.

Leave Me Alone, It’s Thanksgiving Weekend:
Use this guide if you can’t or don’t want to write over Thanksgiving weekend. If you’re hosting people, driving, or required to spend a lot of time with your friends or family, this plan will allow you to keep on track even if you can’t write a single word over Thanksgiving weekend.

You Do You:
None of these plans work for you? That’s okay! Here’s a blank pace guide that you can tailor to your needs. Even if you’re planning to stick with one of the other guides, hang on to this one incase something derails your progress and you need to create a new guide to see you through to the end of the month.

Character and Setting Sketches

I don’t know about you, but looking at pacing guides is amping me up. The hardest struggle for me this week is to not start writing. If that goes for you, too, here’s an exercise you can do to start fleshing out your story without adding to your word count.

If you’re a planner, odds are by now you have at least a little bit of an idea what you’ll be writing about come November 1. Fill out a character sketch for each of your characters now so that when you start writing you already have a clear picture of who they are, what they look like, a sense of their backstory and an idea of motivates them.

Similarly, if you know your characters are going to be spending a lot of time in certain places, start describing them now using a setting sketch. Having a clear picture in your mind will allow you to describe the scene more fully, and you won’t waste any time imagining the space since you’ve already thought it out.

With these character and setting sketches, you should feel free to get as detailed or as general as you’d like. Adding physical descriptions of people and places is an easy way to immerse readers in your story while adding tons of words to your word count.

Our next post will be on November 1st! If you have any last minute questions or concerns about NaNoWriMo, drop them in the comments and we’ll be sure to answer all your questions so you can start the month ready to roll. See you November 1!
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