I wanted to take this chance to talk a bit about how my NaNo season went this year. Now, a lot of this will probably end up in my monthly recap for November, but I’ll try to go into a bit more depth here than I do there.
I was really straightforward with my goal for Nano this year: 800 words each day, or 24k words for the month. Now, if I’m being honest, 800 words isn’t all that much to me. When I do sit down to write I almost always pump out at least 1000 words, and usually closer to 2k before calling it quits for the session. In a free day, with proper motivation and focus, I can write 5k before my brain liquifies and dribbles out my ears.
So, 800 felt really doable. Which was the point. I work over 40 hours a week most weeks, and this is the first major writing project I’ve undertaken since working both jobs again. I went from 25 hours or less at work, to 40+. That’s a big change in routine, and I needed to be realistic with myself when setting the goals for Nano if I wanted to do well.
Still, 800/day nagged at me. Was it too easy? Too doable? Should I have stretched for 1000 words a day? Would that have been the better challenge? Truthfully, I don’t know. I think I could have done it, but I would be even more exhausted than I am now, and my recoup time would leak even further into December. I don’t want that. I want to keep working on this novel into the new year, and hopefully finish it by March.
And, well, I’m off to a great start because I made my goal for the month. I wrote 25,069 words in the month of November! It was a struggle and there were a lot of days where I didn’t write at all. Sundays were my most productive days, and that’s directly thanks to the local Write-Ins my Nano Chapter hosted each weekend. I also need to give a shout out to my writer’s discord community, for all the impromptu sprint sessions and encouragement they provided this month. They were a huge help and motivator.
Average words a day: 835
Total Manuscript word count: 25,488
Here’s the thing about NaNo that so many people seem to miss: it isn’t really about the word count. Yeah, crossing the 50k threshold is one hell of an adrenaline rush, and it’s feels beyond amazing to know you could write so much in so little time. But, it doesn’t matter how many words you vow to write. It only matters that you write them.
National Novel Writing Month is about making time for your writing. It’s about establishing a writing habit and working out that writing muscle. Because it is a muscle. The more often you write, the easier it is to continue to be consistent and productive. If you write in spurts and starts it’s harder to get back into the swing of things and feel like the work you’re producing is actually worth a damn.
I think that’s my one complaint about NaNo. A lot of writers are willing to sacrifice the quality of their writing in order to log the sheer quantity that the terms of the traditional challenge demand. One Wrimo (Nanowrimo participant) confessed that when she’s sprinting, she doesn’t use punctuation. I was floored. How could that even be possible? How could you go back and read it, how could you edit it into what you’d originally intended?
And then she admitted, “I always mean to edit, but I usually never make it back to the novel. I move on to the next one.”
During National Novel Writing Month, the words are king. You are advised never to edit, not even if you decide to change your word choice. Just strikethrough the one you don’t want to use and write in the new one. Every word counts, don’t cut ANYTHING!
But I can’t do that. It’s why my sprints are so comparatively slow. 300-500 words in 15 minutes, maybe just over 600 if it’s a 20 minute sprint. And I think that’s good. But others pound out over 1000 words! It’s mind boggling.
I’d rather write to my usual quality than hoard words on the page like a dragon hoards gold. Nano for me is as much a celebration as it is a challenge. It’s a time for writers to come together and cheer on one another as we all work toward whatever goals we’ve set for ourselves.
And that’s exactly how my month went. Celebrating the love of storytelling that brings us all together and encouraging each other through the struggles of writerdom. And despite the stress of the challenge and the looming holidays, I freaking love it.
If you participated in Nano this year, I hope you enjoyed yourself, and are proud of all the hard work you did to reach your writing goals.
I’ll be back soon with the monthly recap, so keep an eye out for that!