Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Tackling the Big Gorilla: Tips for Adding NaNoWriMo to Your Jam-Packed Schedule


Can a writer add a large project like NaNoWriMo into an already jam-packed schedule? 

To answer that question, you must consider the commitments you already made. Then you can create a realistic schedule that allows you to add in such a project. 

The first thing to do is take out a piece of paper or fire up your computer and make three columns:  home, work, and volunteering. Under each heading, list all you have to do for the month of November, noting deadlines where necessary. Then the actual work begins. 

Review each item on your to-do list to see if it’s something you can delegate or change the deadline. You must also consider if you have the time to dedicate to volunteering. Let’s talk more about these steps. 

Delegate What You Can 

The easiest way to remove things from your to-do list is to delegate. Gasp! You mean I am expected to allow someone else to handle things I only trust myself to do?  

Though it is tough to give up control, unless you want the entire month to pass by in a stress-filled blur, you need to ask for help. You can delegate household chores, errands, even meal preparation to other members of your household. Even small children can help keep the living areas of your home clean by picking up their messes before bedtime.  

Are These Firm Deadlines? 

Adding a big writing project may require you to adjust deadlines for smaller projects. This should not be done without giving it a great deal of thought. Some things to consider are: 

  • What is the impact on my relationship with this client if I ask for an extension?
  • Have I asked this client for an extension in the past?
  • What is the impact on my overall business if I can’t meet this deadline? 
  • What is the impact of this new writing project on my overall business? 

Once you’ve damaged a relationship, it takes a tremendous amount of work to repair it. Constantly asking for extensions gives the impression that this client isn’t important to you. 

On the flip side, if a large project will have a positive impact on your overall career, it can be worth making it happen. If it becomes necessary to move a deadline, let clients know in plenty of time and be ready to offer them a new “firm” deadline for the completion of their projects. 

Do I Have Time to Volunteer? 

Review your volunteering list for November. Is it realistic to be involved in those activities and commit to a large writing project at the same time? If it isn't, but you're committed to NaNoWriMo, you might have to say that dreaded two-letter word. No can be difficult to say, but you’re only saying no for the duration of this writing project, not forever. 

If you decide to tackle the big gorilla of NaNoWriMo, making a realistic schedule will increase your productivity.

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and award-winning editor. She is the author of four children’s books including, A Christmas Kindness, released by 4RV Publishing. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three adult children. Visit Cheryl's website at or her children’s book blog at

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