Alternatives to Writing the NaNoWriMo 50K

I hope you like lists, because this post is like 80% list. (Not an accurate percentage, but it’s pretty darn close.)

For some writers, NaNoWriMo just isn’t as doable as it is for others.

Maybe you don’t have the time to commit 50,000 words in a month. Maybe you don’t have the energy. Maybe you have mental or physical issues that get in the way. Maybe you already committed to something else in November. Or maybe it’s something different entirely.

Whatever the reason, have no fear!

Have you heard the term NaNo Rebel?

NaNo Rebels are the folks who participate in NaNoWriMo, but don’t start writing a new novel. For some people it means editing a previous project, or continuing with whatever they were writing in October.

Or it could mean any of the following alternatives!

So for the writer who wants to participate in NaNoWriMo, but can’t: here are 4 alternatives to the 50K.


These activities could be writing, of course. Or they could be any of these:

  • editing / revising / rewriting
  • plot outlining
  • pre-writing
  • brainstorming sessions
  • character development activities
  • sketching your characters
  • reading a book on writing
  • studying a book similar to yours
  • story-boarding (on Pinterest, or try pinning things to a real cork-board!)
  • researching publishing opportunities
  • researching a cover design that could work for your book
  • setting writing goals for the week/month/year ahead
  • creating a writing schedule

These may not always be “writing,” but they’re productive and relevant to your book regardless!


This one is a little obvious, but it’s a great way to start a writing routine that fits your lifestyle better than the NaNo 1,667.

Do some trial and error with this one to figure out what goal could work best for you. Here are some goals I’ve had in the past:

  • 200 words per day
  • 1,000 words per day
  • one hour of writing per day
  • four hours of writing per week
  • 20,000 words by the end of the month


Do you blog?

If yes – this is an excellent goal for NaNo!

Though technically not part of a novel (but maybe so, depending on your blog type), this is a reasonable writing goal for yourself. It also affects your following, which keeps you accountable. Win-win!

If no – you definitely should. Seriously. Even if you think you’re super boring* and have nothing to write about, blogs are a fun way to connect with your readers and hone your writing skill. I recommend it 100%.

* Side note: you’re never as boring as you think you are. Everyone has something interesting to say!


The way I see it, there are three kinds of writers:

  1. Writers who love to journal, write in their journals almost daily, buy high-quality pens, and swear that journaling can benefit anyone.
  2. Writers who buy a stack of journals every time they go out, but never use them.
  3. Writers who don’t care to journal, or have difficulty making a habit of it.

Regardless of which writer you are (somehow I’m all three?), NaNo is a great opportunity to start or improve your journaling habits.

And there’s more to journaling than just writing snippets of your day (which is also great!). Here are a few types of journaling to consider:

  • Bullet journaling – look it up, it’s a great activity even if you can’t draw
  • Writer journaling – to keep track of characters, plot points, writing goals, etc.
  • Art journaling – for all you fabulous artists out there
  • Fiction journaling – keep by your bed for those middle-of-the-night snippets YOU JUST HAVE TO WRITE IMMEDIATELY

All or any of these can be combined into one journal to rule them all. For example, I keep a daily journal with bullet journal spreads every month, and occasionally drawings.

In connecting these to NaNoWriMo: a reasonable goal would be to journal (whatever that means for you) once daily. Or maybe an hour a day. Or weekly. Whatever works best for you.

Let’s summarize!

And how else than with another list?!

Alternatives to writing 50K in NaNoWriMo:

  1. x daily activities related to your book
  2. x words/pages/hours of writing per day/week
  3. x blog posts weekly
  4. developing new journaling habits

What have you done for NaNoWriMo? Have you ever written the 50K? Is there an alternative you’ve tried that worked? Comment below!

Happy writing!