I’ve heard about NaNo-WriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for a few years and have never officially participated for one reason or another. But this year, I’m all in. NaNo-WriMo is an organized national event where writers find support and camaraderie in their commitment to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Conceivably, this could mean someone would be able to complete a first draft of a full length novel in thirty days. Just ask our very own Casey Wyatt, who completed a manuscript last year which then became published!
When broken down into a daily word-count, it means writing about 1660 words per day—a very doable task for determined and self-disciplined writers. For me, that’s about a chapter a day or five to six pages. But one of the reasons I haven’t participated in the past is that…and don’t tell anyone…I don’t write every day. That’s right; sometimes days go by and I haven’t written a word. Life, work, and family might require my undivided attention, or maybe I’m processing my plot, dialogue, or how my next scene will move the story forward. Other days, I may write for six or eight hours, producing as many as twenty pages or two or three chapters. Up until recently, I wasn’t even paying very close attention to my word count. I gave myself a certain number of months to write my first draft and figured out how many pages a week I needed to write, but never felt the need to focus on the actual word count.
That is until Susannah Hardy challenged the CTRWA members to start doing “sprints” on FaceBook. A sprint is when a bunch of people agree to spend a few hours at night writing their little hearts out to make a predetermined word-count goal. Ironically, the average writer is able to put out a thousand or fifteen hundred words in that period of time. Some more and some less, but the actual goal isn’t important. The sprints (and NaNo-WriMo) are successful because it gets everyone working toward their individual goal and is a way for this isolated work to feel much less lonely. It also holds us accountable to a group of people (nothing like peer pressure or the threat of public humiliation to get the muse musing). A little competition and some recognition for a job well done can’t hurt. Not to mention that you may just write the novel of your heart in a mere month—something that takes some writers a lifetime to accomplish. I figure I have nothing to lose by trying. Even if I don’t finish, I’ll be a heck of a lot further along than if I hadn’t tried.
Here’s my challenge to myself. (I’ll share it with all of you since I’m highly motivated by accountability and the threat of public humiliation.) I’ve recently started my new work in progress (WIP), Book Two in The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy. Since the book is set to finish at about 70,000 words, I figure I’ll get a jump on NaNo-WriMo and try to have 20,000 words written by November 1st so I can plan for the other 50k and finish my first draft in a month. I’ve only managed a sixty-thousand words in six weeks pace one other time and that was when I wrote Savage Cinderella back in 2009. I may still not be able to write every day during November, but I’ll set my weekly goal for 10-12,000 words which is about 30-40 pages a week. That’s a pretty aggressive pace, but with the help and support of my writing family, I’m going to give it my best shot.