Photo by Florencia Viadana on Unsplash

The Procrastinator’s Guide to Hitting Your NaNoWriMo Word Count on the Last Day

Gila Pfeffer
3 min readNov 30, 2020


By Gila Pfeffer and Mandi Em

Well, here we are, November 30 and you’re kicking yourself for breaking your annual commitment to fully participate in NaNoWriMo. Again. As you stare at the number 3,441 at the bottom left of your Word doc, you’re marinating in a mixture of self loathing, excuses (mainly that it’s 2020) and promises that next year will be your year. No doubt.

But wait! Don’t give up so fast, mon ami!

The goal is to write 1,000 words per day for a total of 30,000. It doesn’t specify what kind of words.

It’s not too late to collect all of the wonderful words you’ve written since the first of the month, copy them into a Word Doc and marvel at your new, five-figure count! Hell, you probably have a healthy six figure number at this point!

Here are just a few suggestions for where to find your precious darlings:

  • Your “Are We Having Christmas This Year or Not?” family group chat
  • Your breakaway family group chat for relatives who voted the same way you did earlier this month.
  • Those comments you made on other people’s NaNoWriMo posts “WoW GoOd FoR yOu” as they hit their target numbers instead of getting your own word count up
  • Any comments on social media of any kind, and given the polarizing times we live in, your comment- uh, we mean word- count is likely higher than usual
  • Your To-Do list which you keep in the Notes app. (Feel free to double dip and count tasks that carried over from the day before.)
  • Listing your kids’ allergies and special dietary requirements on a field trip medical form x how many kids you have.
  • The Amazon reviews you left for aggressive third-party sellers who insist that you tell the world about how the dry-erase board you ordered exceeded your expectations on several levels
  • Live chats with customer service at the random website you just bought antibacterial microfiber cloths and a canine-sized Ruth Bader Ginsberg costume from
  • Notes left on the windshields of double-parked assholes who blocked you in and made you late for your Sound Bath Meditation appointment. (You may have to type this into your Word doc, but it will be well worth increasing your word count by twenty nine, maybe even thirty)
  • That rant on Instagram about being blocked in by a double-parked asshole
  • Emails to your kids’ teachers about there being too much/too little/not challenging enough/ so hard you couldn’t even help them homework.
  • Special instructions for your Uber Eats order preparer
  • Special instructions for your Uber Eats delivery person
  • Those letters you wrote to the editor of your local paper about the impending plans for that empty rec center lot that’s currently being used for dog-walking and meth-smoking
  • Typing out “I AM A FAILURE AND WILL NEVER BE A REAL WRITER” over and over in your empty Google doc until you get a hand cramp while you cry and drink sherry at 10am
  • Anything you type into the Google search box counts, so today is a great day to learn “how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood”. Feel free to include past November searches
  • Those status updates in your NaNo FB group about how “everything is coming along nicely”
  • A Google review of the sherry that’s carrying you through life

Long story short, do whatever it takes to hit that word count and make the short story long again. You may not end up with a novel by midnight tonight, but damn it you accomplished *something* and that’s good enough. Pass the sherry.

Written in collaboration with Mandi Em



Gila Pfeffer

NEARLY DEPARTED: A Memoir About Outsmarting My Genetic Destiny coming in 2024. Breast cancer prevention advocate up in your face about self exams and mammos