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