NaNoWriMo Tip: 7 Ways to Keep Writing During Thanksgiving

NaNoWriMo Tip 7 Ways to Keep Writing During Thanksgiving via KLWightman.com
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You meant to cushion your NaNoWriMo word count before Thanksgiving—but clearly that didn’t happen.

If you need to crank out some words for National Novel Writing Month, I have a game plan that lets you both enjoy the holiday and write more of your novel-in-progress.

Yes, you can have your pumpkin pie and eat it too! Here’s how.


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Things can get crazy when you’re home for Thanksgiving. There are meals to prep, old friends to visit, Turkey Trots to run, Black Friday deals to snag and time just to spend around the kitchen table with your family and loved ones.

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And all those beautiful writing habits you interwove into your schedule this month for National Novel Writing Month? Kiss them goodbye!

In a perfect world, your NaNoWriMo word count is so high that taking the holiday off from your writing doesn’t send you in a panic.

But when does life ever go as planned?

If you need to write during Thanksgiving so that your National Novel Writing Month word count stays on track, you need a strategy—and fast!

Sure, I can tell you one way to keep writing during Thanksgiving and call it a day. But every writer prefers different writing conditions when it comes to cranking out NaNoWriMo words.

So here is a bountiful feast of brainstormed ideas to keep you writing during the holidays!

Write in Transit

If you’re driving home for the holidays, you can scratch that. Safety first!

But if it takes a plane, train, bus or carpool to get you home for Thanksgiving, you already have too much time to burn. Why not spend it writing for National Novel Writing Month?

Sure, it’s more fun turning off your brain to watch a movie on whatever device you have or listen to that playlist for the twenty-third time.

It would give you a valid excuse out of that awkward conversation with that stranger or the acquaintance that paired up with you as this season’s travel buddy.

Set Your Alarm

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Are you a morning bird? Keep reading.

If your family is like mine, meal preparations for Thanksgiving starts once everyone in the house is awake. And sometimes that can be quite early.

I know it’s a holiday and you want to catch up on Zs that you missed during the workweek. But if you find yourself more creative in the morning, don’t let the snooze button keep you from getting caught up on your word count.

By waking up early to write, you can enjoy the rest of your day stress-free.

Pull an All-Nighter

Night owl? I have the solution for you!

After everyone says their goodbyes and goodnights, it’s time to open the laptop and type away. If your creativity runs rampant after sunset (which now happens earlier and earlier), you have plenty of undisturbed time to boost your NaNoWriMo word count.

Challenge yourself to stay up past midnight to get ahead on the next day’s word count. That way, you won’t feel as much pressure to meet your daily word count goals the following evening.

Drop In to a Write-In

You need a place where you can focus on writing for National Novel Writing Month, and that might be outside the house where family and friends are all sharing one bathroom.

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You could hang out at a café alone where you’re expected to buy a fancy coffee and stay only an hour. Or you could attend a write-in for free!

In case you don’t know, a write-in is a writing session hosted at a library where NaNoWriMo participants can gather together just to write. No reading aloud your work to be critiqued. Just writing.

I find write-ins very helpful when I need to write at less ideal times of the day because I find myself exceeding my word count goals. There’s just something about surrounding yourself with passionate writers in a quiet space without distraction.

Except for all the typing and scribbling, of course.

You can find a local write-in session happening near you, wherever Thanksgiving takes you this year, by searching the National Novel Writing Month website.

Step Away

You can talk about National Novel Writing Month all you want with your family, explaining your project and the high stakes of writing close to two thousand words a day. Sometimes, they don’t get the hint that you need time to get your word count in.

It’s time to put your foot down and create that time for yourself.

Find yourself a sacred space where you’re staying where the likelihood of someone knocking on the door is minimal or at least reduced significantly. Then hang a Do Not Disturb sign on the door before you close it and lock it behind you.

Give yourself only an hour. This forces you to write whatever comes to mind for the scene without hesitation or overthinking so that you reach your daily word count goal.

Talk It Out

There’s a lot that needs to be done to get Thanksgiving dinner on the table. If you play an important role in making that happen, your time was probably sucked dry at the grocery store and in the kitchen.

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On top of all the stress that comes with mashing the potatoes and stirring the gravy, you have to get your NaNoWriMo word count in for the day!

Yes, you want to write. You just don’t have a free hand to write out your thoughts.

Rather than trying to find time to write during Thanksgiving, make time to talk out your story. There are some valuable dictation apps out there that write out everything you record saying and either save it as a word document file or email your dictation to you.

Challenge yourself to verbal sprints where you tell your story aloud. You may find a new rhythm to your style or discover something about the story by “writing” this way.

Excuse Yourself

There’s a lot that needs to be done to get Thanksgiving dinner on the table. If you play an important role in making that happen, your time was probably sucked dry at the grocery store and in the kitchen.

On top of all the stress that comes with mashing the potatoes and stirring the gravy, you have to get your NaNoWriMo word count in for the day!

A solid hour of time to write just isn’t going to happen.

So why not break up the hour you need to crank out words throughout the celebration? Excuse yourself for the bathroom and instead of locking yourself in the toilet palace, challenge yourself to a ten-minute writing sprint.

Spacing these out during the celebration can easily add up to an hour by the end of the night. You’ll also have time to brainstorm what to write next once you return to chopping the vegetables and stirring the stuffing.


While you’ve made a commitment to your writing during National Novel Writing Month, it’s important to keep a balance between your writing goals and spending time with your loved ones. You don’t want them to feel second best to your writing—and you don’t want to feel like your writing doesn’t matter to your friends and family.

Be open to having a conversation about NaNoWriMo with those you’re spending time with this Thanksgiving. You may find that they support you more than you think and are more than happy to give you the time you need to meet or exceed your daily word count goal.

Isn’t that something worth being thankful?

Now I want to read your NaNoWriMo tips! How do you keep writing during Thanksgiving? Share your strategy in the comments section below.

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