That means the NaNo is on. National Novel Writing Month. Write a novel in a month.
In the case of the NaNo this means 50,000 words in thirty days. That’s a lot of words – unless you’re a full time writer, or very productive, or for some other reason you’re just used to it and don’t feel it’s a big deal.
For me, 50,000 words is an enormous amount. I won’t be taking part in the NaNo, but that doesn’t mean I’m opposed to it, and I won’t try and convince you not to do it. It’s just not my thing.
What I will try and do is encourage you to keep going if you’ve started. Last year I saw plenty of posts from people who’d begun and then gotten discouraged in one way or another and stopped. I’ve got a few words that I hope may help you avoid that.
I’m fairly new to the whole writing thing. I’m not published, and I’m not very productive, but I’m eagerly soaking up all the tips and advice I can find about the art of writing. One saying I encountered fairly early on was about how no writing is ever wasted.
Every word you write adds to your experience as a writer, regardless of whether it’s good or bad, or whether you keep it as a part of your story or delete it five seconds after writing it. Time spent writing isn’t wasted, as long as you actually write.
By “actually write” I mean you spend time with your story. You sit down with your pen in hand, or your fingers on the keyboard and you work on your story. In the case of the NaNo, it probably means you get words down on the page too, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
I’ve had sessions where I’ve sat down to write and after an hour my story has increased by an entire two paragraphs. I still consider those to be productive, because what I’ve written has moved the story forward, or taught me something new about my characters or the world I’m writing about. Sometimes, that’s what it’s taken to get over a hurdle in the story.
Productivity isn’t just about word count.
Except, when it comes to the NaNo, it kind of is. 50,000 words in thirty days means an average of 1,666 words a day. Maybe you’re working a full time job, or maybe you have a family to look after – maybe you’ve got both. All of a sudden, getting the time to write close to 2,000 words in a day is a feat in its own right. In that case, spending hours polishing a few sentences isn’t a luxury you can afford.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do the NaNo, just that you have to use the time you have effectively. You have to keep knocking out those words and you’ve got a limited time to do it. I think it’s safe to say not all of it is going to be up to your usual standard, or to the standard you expect from yourself.
Remember what I mentioned earlier? No writing is wasted. Even if the story you’re chipping away at isn’t as good as you wish it were you’re still learning from it. You’re putting words on paper (or screen). It may not turn out the way you imagined, but you can go over it later and figure out why. You’re creating a story, and it may feel to you like it’s absolutely dreadful, but it’s there, and you can fix it later.
Most of all, you’re doing something. You’re writing. You’re not just thinking about writing, or talking about writing, or dreaming about how great your story will be once it’s done. You’re writing. You are a writer.
To me, that’s what the NaNo is about. It’s not about producing a masterpiece. It’s about putting in the time and the effort and writing that novel you’ve been thinking about. Don’t worry about the quality. You can fix that later, but if you don’t write, you have nothing to fix.
And on that note, get off the internet and get back to your novel. It’s not going to write itself.
Oh, and best of luck with it. It probably isn’t nearly as easy as I’m making it out to be here.
Make the Journey with Fellow Scribes
Looking for friends? Visit our NaNoWriMo forum on Mythic Scribes.
What are your goals for National Novel Writing Month this year?
What are your favorite strategies for improving your writing productivity?