NaNoWriMo is coming up, and as usual I won’t be playing along. I’ll explain why at the end. For those who don’t know, “NaNoWriMo” stands for National Novel Writing Month, an annual November game where people try to write a 50K word novel in one month.

Odds are that *some* of the people reading this will be taking part, some for the first time. For those of you who write solely because you like to write, maybe share your work online, I think it’s awesome. Good luck with your word counts and be interesting.

For those of you who would like to write professionally but haven’t reached that goal yet, I think it’s awesome (redux). Good luck with your word counts and be interesting. I’ll add something else, though: If you’re not already writing at this pace, consider this essential practice for how you will work year-round. 50K words in 30 days is only 1,667 (to round up) per day. Call it 1,700 to give yourself a cushion for those days Mad Men is on.

That’s not a lot. Many professional novelists would consider that a Meh day, and many others would feel like slackers. If 50,000 words in one month seems like a huge goal, take the NaNoWriMo game as an opportunity to stretch yourself and your conception of what you’re capable of.

I’m talking from experience here. I’m a poky writer myself, and 1,700 words a day would be a difficult pace to maintain. You know what? It holds me back, and I’m trying to improve my productivity by limiting distractions and prepping better for each session. Hell, I might even try Write or Die, as suggested by Naomi Novik here.

So have fun and do good work. Also, take the opportunity to challenge the limits you believe you have. It doesn’t have to be one month a year.

10 thoughts on “NaNoWhaNow?

  1. Greg

    I’ve got a question about word count, what’s your record for the day? I think I’ve written somewhere around 8,000 in a day (max) in my day job (journalist), but fiction is a different animal. Also, how much do you keep vs. throw out? Is there an average for you, or does it totally depend on the day and what you’re coming up with? There are definitely days when I’ve written an extra 500-1,000 words for an article and had to toss it out.

  2. Greg, just recently I did 4K in a day and a half for the Suvudu “A Glimpse of Darkness” audience choice story (see image in sidebar). That was a lot for me and it had to be nearly-finished work, although a Del Rey editor did go over it.

    That was a lot. In fact, I saw my family only for an hour or so at the end of the day. It’s not something I could have done every day.

    That said, 1500 words a day was my goal for a long while–on days I have off my day job, at least. The only way I could hit those marks was to spend sufficient time on the bus or in the shower planning the next scene. If I sat down without already having a clear idea where things needed to go, they didn’t get there.

  3. I only do 1K a day about three days a week…but an average book of the sort I do only has a 15K script, and I also have to do two illustrations a day (usually for the prior script) so the workload definitely distributes differently.

    I think Nanowrimo is an awesome thing, but I usually tell people I’m doing NaNoFiMo and actually writing to finish some of the friggin’ projects I’ve got laying around, rather than overpopulate an already crammed trunk.

  4. I’m still too slow to manage 50K in a month, and I’m okay with that. I’d rather be more prolific than I am, but it’s not going to happen right away. Someday, maybe!

    When I was young I drew and drew like crazy, but I could never make it work.

  5. The real trouble I’m having with writing at that pace is that I feel like I’m writing utter crap and really want to go back and fix it…the urge is strong hehe.

  6. That’s why Charlie Stross can’t play along. He spends too much time back-tracking.

    Which is fine. Doing a vomit draft (so to speak) is a technique that works really well for some folks, but not all. If you’ve never tried it, it’s good to take a swing, but if it doesn’t work out well, that’s a good thing to know.

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