For some writers, November means one huge, month-long challenge — National Novel Writing Month. Participants pledge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. This is my fourth Nanowrimo and I both look forward to and dread the challenge each year. The anticipation in the final week leading up to November 1st is filled with excitement and anxiety.
By this point in my career, I’ve learned a few ways to survive Nano. The one that works best for me is to start strong. As soon as November 1st comes around, I want to hit the ground running by exceeding the 1,667 word a day count, which is the pace you need to finish on November 30th. I strive for 2k a day in the beginning.
However, some days I might not get the chance to even write 1,667 words, especially during a busy work week. So I make the most of weekends. Yes, it would be nice to get in, but it would be even better to wake up early and knock off 1,000 words before breakfast, maybe another 1,000 before lunch. I try to crank out larger word counts during the weekend so I have some breathing space during the week. Falling behind on your word count leads to anxiety, which leads to fear, which leads to anger, which leads to the dark side…
Wait, no, got a little sidetracked by Star Wars. What it may lead you to do is abandon your novel. You don’t want to do that! Keep going. Find small chunks throughout the day to write, even if it’s just a paragraph over a ten-minute time period where you’re waiting for a doctor’s appointment, to pick up your kids, or while waiting for pasta to boil. Even if you only write a few sentences here and there, they add up. Make the most of it.
Last year, I had one blissful Sunday where I wrote 5k while my family wrote football. I’ve only reached 3k on a Sunday this year, but the month is young.
Do you participate in Nano? If so, what works for you?