Posted in Writing

Planning for a Busy November

This month, we at Today’s Author have a specific goal in mind. We want you help you get ready for NaNoWriMo.

What?! You’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo?!
Come out from under that rock and sit a spell, and let me fill you in. This is from their Wikipedia page:”NaNoWriMo is an annual internet-based creative writing project that takes place every November. NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel between November 1 and 30. Despite its name, it accepts entries from around the world. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to get people writing, no matter how bad the writing is, through the end of a first draft.”

I’ll take exception to one part of that description: “no matter how bad the writing is.”

I don’t like that. While I certainly agree that the goal of turning off your editor, and giving the creative monster inside you a Frankenstein-like jolt of juice, if at the end of the month, you’re left with 50,000 words that make you cringe when you think about tucking into the second draft, I don’t think you’ve done yourself any favors. Of course, I’d rather you write 50,000 words about the positive effects the US Congress has had on the modern word (i.e., alternative history/speculative fiction) then nothing at all.

NaNoWriMo2013This month, we want to help you move past the nothing, keep moving past the worthless first draft, and into the territory of creating a first draft that leaves you wanting to finish it. A lofty goal for sure, but most of us here at Today’s Author lean a little toward the megalomaniacal.

To kick things off, I want to help you with a little basic math.

To finish NaNoWriMo you need to write 50,000 words in November. November has 30 days. That’s 1666.66667 words each day, right? You don’t need to look for a calculator, Google search will solve math problems for you. I’ll wait. OK, so whether you just checked my math or not….That’s 1666.66667 words each day, right?

WRONG. It’s at least 2,000 words per day.

No, I didn’t suddenly develop acalculia. I am instead acknowledging a basic fact: *(&%^# happens. You will not be able to write everyday–or at the very least you can’t rely on the same level of productivity each day. Why not?

Oh I don’t know…maybe Thanksgiving! Yes the the helpful people at NaNoWriMo chose a month that’s 3-7 days shorter than it appears–at least for those of us in the US. Unless you have no family, or are more than willing to snub them, you’re probably not going to get a lot of writing done on National Food Coma Day (NaFooCoDa)–what with all that football and all those carbs. And if you’ve got kids and a budget, you may lose a good bit of the next day as well, as you pepper spray and kidney punch your neighbors to beat them out to the extra 1% discount that applies from 5:00AM to 5:01AM–Ahhhh, Black Friday.

The point is, if you want to succeed, you need to build a little margin-of-error into your schedule. Because in November the silent manjority of NaNoWriMos (>85% don’t finish) will learn the hard way that it’s nearly impossible to write 50,000 words in 30 days if you’re writing behind schedule.

If in the first six days you can write 2,000 words each day, you’ll be at 12,000–2,000 words ahead of where you need to be at the 1666.66667 pace. That’s a whole day off. That’s a day to be sick, to spend with your kids, to lock yourself in the bathroom and cry–you know, however you like to spend your time. And if you’re one of those who can write 2,000 words every day, then on November 25th you’ll be done.

And then you can stuff yourself to the brim with cranberries and stuffing, basking in the knowledge that you are awesome, and you didn’t need the whole November to write your draft. Heck you wouldn’t even have needed all of February.

11 thoughts on “Planning for a Busy November

  1. 2000 a day was my goal as well, considering Thanksgiving. I hope to be able to keep it. Does anyone have advice for catching up if I do fall behind?


    1. This might sound like a joke, but I’ve done it in the past and it’s worked. If you need to catch up, take a day off of work. Call in sick, and hole up. But then I’ve always found stolen days to be very productive from a creativity standpoint.


      1. I’m lucky to have a Friday off in November that I plan to use to my full advantage! I’ll remember this if we’re getting down to the wire; maybe the day before Thanksgiving would be helpful?


  2. Well put. I have read that week two is the “heart break hill” of NaNoWriMo, but I fear Thanksgiving weekend. I hope to be nearly done by Thanksgiving so that I can see the finish line within reach, and hope that motivates me to complete.


  3. I’m hoping to get back on the NaNo horse this year. Over the last few years I’ve not partaken due to A-levels and doig my degree so I’m looking foward to the challenge.


  4. I always aim for a higher word count on the days I don’t have to work…of course, if we could take a vacation for the entire month of November we’d have it made.


  5. AWESOME tip of seriously “rounding up” on the daily word count. Other than Turkey Day this year, I’ll be going away for a day long trip for my annual football pilgrimage to Notre Dame. And on a sad note, the first anniversary of my step-father’s passing is just before Turkey Day, I can’t predict how my emotions will run for that day or two. I’m sure with the extra few hundred words a day, I’ll sail through all that mess!


  6. I’m approaching my eighth NaNoWriMo. One time (yes, one), I started on November 1 and stayed on or ahead of the word count goal. All other years, I started late and fell way behind. My first year, I didn’t start until November 9 due to work obligations (I crossed the 50,000 word mark on November 30 at 11:45 pm). It is totally doable even if you fall behind, the key is to not panic. And to turn off the television. And to let the dishes, laundry, etc. sit for a day if you need to catch up.


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