Written by Sarah Yoon

this is how it isEven when you’ve created your own NaNoWriMo bunker, life still happens. You have more time-consuming commitments than you think, and there’s only so much that you can cut out to reach your daily word count. Even this early in the game, it’s easy to be discouraged by the bombardment of busyness. As Nathan Huff humorously illustrates, “This is how it is.”

1,667 words per day. It sounds perfectly doable at the outset, but the waters get pretty cold when you dive in. One of the most troubling discoveries is that life doesn’t slow down for you—this discourages many potential NaNo competitors from even beginning. So if you’ve spent the last 4 days faithfully plugging away, you’re already 6,668 ahead of them. But you’ve still got a long way to go. Life will continue on, so if you ignore any oncoming storms, they will crash over you and sweep you off course.

Find your Balance

In college, many students try to do it all. They want the academic achievements, the glittering social life, and enough sleep to get them through it all. But one of those will inevitably get ignored. To stay sane, you focus on two and slip the third in where you can. The same goes for NaNoWriMo. No matter how hard you try to pile everything into your schedule, something will slip through the cracks. Before life gets too crazy, balance your load:

  • List your commitments. They take time and eat away at mental energy. Jobs, school, relationships, sleep, and of course NaNoWriMo.
  • Prioritize responsibilities. Reasonable expectations may put NaNo lower on the totem pole than you’d like, but being realistic will help you in the long run.
  • Whittle them down. Decide what is essential, and what can wait until December. Some choose to forego sleep—a viable yet dangerous choice. While others find that socializing is for the weak.
  • Say no. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, don’t add anything new to your schedule. Ask if you can start in December or if you can postpone your decision.
  • Write efficiently. Focus on progress and don’t stress about production value. NaNo admittedly isn’t about quality, but quantity. Lock your inner perfectionist away and remove inhibitions.

When you’re done snipping away at your life, you’ll be a little sobered. People who succeed aren’t delusional—ignoring life around them and pretending that everything will work out. Instead, they’re determined. When you balance practicality with focus and enthusiasm, you’ll be ready for the long haul.


“This is how it is” — Graciously provided by Nathan Huff.