How to Support a Writer Friend During NaNoWriMo

It’s an intense time.

Claire Handscombe
4 min readOct 31, 2022


Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

November, for many writers, means one thing: the terrifying yet exhilarating prospect of drafting a 50,000 novel in 30 days in a challenge called NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month. Assuming a steady schedule, that’s 1,667 words per day, and, not including planning time, it takes one to two hours or so, depending on whether they’re handwriting or typing and how fast the ideas are flowing.

One or two hours a day maybe doesn’t sound too much, and for the first few days, maybe it doesn’t feel like much, either. But eventually, it takes its toll. One or two hours a day is a lot to carve out for an entire month when you already have a full life. Maybe dishes pile up in the sink; maybe laundry doesn’t get done; maybe you look up at the end of the month and realise there are friends you haven’t seen since you went into your cave at the end of October.

We all have times when we need extra support. Healthy friendships consist of give-and-take, and your friend will hopefully be there for you when, say, you need help moving house or planning your baby shower. And in exchange, NaNoWriMo is a time for you to step in as a good friend, if you’re able. From a veteran NaNoWriMo participant and sometimes winner, here are some suggestions on how to support a writer friend during this time.

Don’t be mad if they can’t hang out

That one or two hours daily — and maybe extra time for planning — have to come from somewhere. Since most of us have to go to work and/or look after little ones, wash and feed ourselves and maybe others, and have at least minimal interaction with the people we live with, it’s inevitable that some things will get dropped, and that some of those things will be social. Don’t take it personally; it’s not you. They might well be longing to get away from their desk to hang out with you. But their discipline to remain at their desk is what will help them complete the challenge.

Ask them how it’s going

If you do get to hang out with them, or if you have the kind of friendship where you exchange texts, make it a habit to ask them how it’s going. Maybe they’re the kind of person who benefits by processing outwardly and…



Claire Handscombe

Editor of WALK WITH US: How the West Wing Changed Our Lives; author of the novel UNSCRIPTED and of CONQUERING BABEL: a Practical Guide to Learning a Language.