I did it. My first ever NaNoWriMo and I finished at 61K with several days to spare. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and the goal is to begin writing a novel on November 1st, and write at least 50 thousand words by November 30th.
Of course, I don’t have kids and a full-time job to disrupt me, but it was still quite the marathon. I’d taken a rough outline for a screenplay idea I’d been toying with (traditional zombies, employed via magic) and decided to turn it into a novel just for the hell of it. Each day I would check my word count and every few hours I’d update it to see where I was.
The NaNoWriMo website has handy graphs to show what your current word count is, your daily average, the average amount you need to write per day in order to hit 50K, and the date by which you should be able to finish, going by your current daily average.
The first few days I averaged over 4000 words a day but would hit a wall not long after that. My maximum was about 5400. A five day trip that had been planned long before I even thought of participating in NaNo cut into my time so my daily average for the month ended up being a little over 2300. Naturally my pace slowed as I neared the end of the story and hit the end (gah!) at just over 47K. I had to go back to the beginning and start filling in some scenes to get to the final goal and ended up with basically a second completed draft.
Everyone is a winner for this ‘contest’, no matter what they write, so long as they hit that magic number of 50 thousand. The most important thing is to just sit down and do it. The daily average a person needs write to hit 50K in a 30 day month is 1667 words, which actually isn’t that hard if you can allot an hour or two a day and dedicate yourself fully during that time.
What’s amazing are the people who manage to do this on top of having small children, a full time job and myriad other demands on their time and energy. Proof that if you want to do something enough, you make it a priority.
The website also hosts a forum where you can talk to other writers on a whole range of topics. You can post questions regarding the genre you are writing in, correspond with people in your age group, find tips on dealing with writers’ block or solve problems you’re having with your own characters or plot development.
You find answers to Big Questions like what happens if a Vampire dyes its hair, or what symbols would make the best tattoos for protection spells.
Public libraries in most cities and regions have also been hosting ‘write ins’ where you can meet other writers in your area.
Participating in NaNoWriMo is something I would recommend to every writer, especially beginning writers who might still be struggling with having enough confidence to write anything at all. You become so focused on meeting the deadline that you worry much less about quality or your skill level. After all, the best way to become a good writer is to keep on writing.