November, for those who don’t know, is National Novel Writing Month. A huge number of people around the world sign up at www.nanowrimo.org to compose a 50,000 word novel in the thirty days that make up November. Yes, that does include Thanksgiving, which can knock out a large number of productivity hours.
I’ve done NaNoWriMo many times. I’ve “won” three times. Of those, only one resulted in a completed novel (at 85k words).
One of the things I noticed about my process was that I tended to try to get a big head start, so I would have a buffer to shield me if I got sick, stressed, bored, or otherwise overwhelmed by the project. I could take whole days off and be all right.
This time, I decided to try a different route. I have committed to writing the number of words necessary to reach 50k by the end of the month each day. 1,667 words. By stopping very close to that number each day, I force myself to get back at the computer the next day, and the next, and so on. The idea is that if I start training myself to write a little bit every day, it can become a habit.
No safety net forces me to have accountability every day. I’m finding I like this approach. I don’t feel overwhelmed. I can write 1,667 words in an hour if I’m in the groove and not worrying too much about crafting perfect sentences. The crafting comes when the draft is done. Usually, it’s taking me a little more than an hour of actual writing time each day, but it’s showing me that this is not an unreachable goal.
So, while I’m not a winner yet, I fully expect that, come November 30th, I’ll cross the finish line right on target and validate my fourth “win.” There will still be more story to write, but that’s all right. All I have to do is keep going.
I’m a writer. That’s what writers do.
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