Happy National Novel Writing Month! If you’re taking part in the month’s “festivities,” I hope things are going well with your project. If you need a little pep-talk, you may want to peruse this blog post by a friend of mine, Deborah.
Producing fifty thousand words of fiction in thirty days is no mean feat. I’ve never done it, but I know plenty of writers who do it year after year. I’d like to know their secret. I’ve heard that sometimes in the mad rush to write them, the words get trampled and are unusable later. But other times they’re in fine shape and the foundation of a strong novel. Some full-time writers probably work that long and hard on a regular basis. What is the difference? Perhaps plotting and planning and spending quality time on it?
Since I haven’t done the 50,000 word “NaNoWriMo” (short for National Novel Writing Month) challenge, I’m not really qualified to write about how to succeed at it, but I’ve picked up on a few things my savvy, overachieving writer friends have done. I’ve also implemented a goal for myself this month, to complete half the goal by writing 25,000 words by November 30. (It seems so comparatively small, but then, we shouldn’t downgrade any improvement we can make!)
Usually I’m a slow, painstaking writer, so although I work consistently on a novel, it takes many months to complete, and my average is about 10,000 words a month. So...how am I able to write so many more words this month?
The daily word count target to attain 50,000 by the end of November is 1,667. That seems like an overwhelming amount to some of us. I can’t yet imagine writing that many words daily on a single novel for thirty days straight. But this month I surprised myself by exceeding that target on two days, and they were decent, usable words, too. What was different? Why did it work so well?
Every writer is unique, so what I’ve been doing won’t necessarily work for you, but maybe at least one of these tips will help out or inspire you:
- I had a clear idea of where I was headed next in the story each time I sat down to write.
- I committed to writing at least 834 words every day.
- I made it a daily priority. One day I was gone from home, but I made up for it the next day (which was when I got over 1,667 words in).
- I didn’t overthink what I was writing. I didn’t fling down words, and though I did a bit of editing to make sure they stayed good quality, I didn’t sweat getting every little word or detail right. I put off extra research for later. As a result, the words flowed easily and quickly.
- I cut down on other activities when I could. This gave me more time and a less cluttered mind. (In fact, this article was kind of done at the last minute...)
- I pondered and planned while I couldn’t actively write. It takes only a few moments to make a crucial decision for a story, one that will undo a plot snag or lay down a clear path for the story to travel next.
- I told people about my goal and whether I reached it each day. Accountability works!
- I prayed about it. God gives strength where we are weak, that’s for sure.
- I thoroughly enjoyed it! The more I wrote, the more I wanted to write. Nearly every night, I closed my story with reluctance. As my blogging friend wrote in her article, love for one’s story is a major motivator.
So whether you’re doing NaNo, or plugging along on your own time, keep it up! Have fun reaching your goal—the joy is in the journey maxim is especially true for writing! In fact, taking joy in the writing journey is what carries you to the finish.
Back in spring, we had a discussion about writing goals. This is more about how slow writers can write faster, or how we can keep up momentum. Are you a slow writer, or a fast writer? What do you do to make each individual session more productive?
Before I forget...
Kelsey Bryant is an author, blogger, and copy editor who loves the Lord. She revels in many things: the beauty of God's Word, the music of English, the wonder of nature, the joy of creativity, the freedom of motion, the richness of literature, the intrigue of history ... and much more. To learn more about her, visit her website or blog.