This is the month when many writers go crazier than usual.
November 1st marked the official beginning of National Write a Novel in a Month (NaNoWriMo). A month where writers strive to meet a target of writing 50,000 words in one month. That’s an average of 1,667 words per day. If we write every day in November, including Thanksgiving Day.
I’ve been writing seriously for over ten years but this is the first year I’ve even attempted to do NaNoWriMo. We have an imp in our weekly writers group, and she challenged us to do it with her.
But I had to make some modifications to retain what sanity I have left. Wait, my characters are arguing in the other room of my brain. They want to know why I’m writing a blog post when I should be writing their story.
I started off with a handicap—I lost the first three days when my grandson and his girlfriend visited us. We had an awesome time, but writing went out the window. My start date became November 4th. And I don’t write on Sunday. That’s a day for rest and family. Which meant to reach 50,000 words I would have to do almost 2,200 words per day, and keep up with other obligations.
My mind boggled. Not so much at the number, but at creating the time. And adjusting my writing style. I edit as I write—editing yesterday’s work to jump-start into today’s. Plus, I will stop at times to find the right word, the better word for what I’m trying to say. Deep editing will have to wait until December 1st.
I’ve had to make some adjustments. If I write a word and I know there’s a better word out there somewhere, I highlight it and keep going.
Daily word counts bug me. I’d rather write and not worry about hitting a target. In the past, that’s meant I ended up writing a lot of junk. 2,200 words every day seemed overwhelming. But I know I can do 500 every day. That became my target. Anything over 500 would be apple pie and ice cream.
Last week, I averaged almost 1500 words per day. If I maintain this for the rest of the month, I’ll have over 34,000 words. Which is a good start for a novel. Plenty of material to work with.
That’s the biggest value I see in NaNoWriMo—creating a sizeable chunk of work to build on.
How about you? Are you doing NaNoWriMo? What kind of adjustments are you making to meet your word count?
I’m not even trying to do NaNoWriMo, what with Thanksgiving, four family birthdays, and helping our older son & his family get ready to move to the Pacific Northwest.
However, I agree with you: The value is in “creating a sizeable chunk of work to build on.” Also in the very discipline of letting my inner editor take a hike until the draft is done. (I’m an “edit yesterday’s before starting today’s” writer, too.)
Thanks for this encouraging post. I may try to do my own NaNoWriMo next year, perhaps during some nice quiet month like March.
You raise a couple of interesting points, Janice. One is that, for many people, November is simply too busy a month.
The other is: take the principles of NaNoWriMo and do it another month that fits your lifestyle better. I would add, find someone to do it with you or who will agree to be an accountability partner. I think sharing the experience, including being accountable, is one of the best features of NaNoWriMo. We’re not out there alone. We have community for support and encouragement.