One of the bad things about being a fast and prolific writer is that it sometimes causes other writers to feel a bit down. Unlike many NaNo’ers, I literally have nothing better to do besides write and occasionally check what’s happening on social media. Because it’s my full-time job, I can focus and write simply because I’m in the habit of writing for extended periods of time.
With that in mind, there is a secret that many NaNo’ers don’t know or don’t think about. NaNoWriMo is not a competition with other writers. As fast as I write, I know someone personally who can write faster than me. That’s fine for them, but it does not really impact me. My job is to try and write as often and as much as I can. I’m on track to beat my old record, and I’m hoping to break the one million words mark for my NaNoWriMo “career” this year. That’s the secret — everyone is only competing with themselves. No matter what everyone else is doing, it has nothing to do with your productivity. You can use someone else’s word count to make you throw your hands up because they’re already done, or you can say, “Good job!”, then get on with your own writing. The overall importance of NaNoWriMo is not to make you crank out 50K words in a month. What NaNo is trying to do is to make writing a habit for you. If you set aside a little time every day, you can actually write a short story, a novel, or a seven-book series.
Let’s say you can only find an hour every day to write. You have work, meals to make, a house to clean…the usual life requirements, so an hour is all you can manage. “What good does writing for an hour do?” you may ask yourself.
I’ll tell you.
Let’s say you can only crank out 500 words in that hour. Actually, let’s make it only 250 words. If that’s all you can manage, the important thing here is that you’re writing regularly. By writing 250 words a day, you will have a completed novel in 280 days. Let’s assume you take days off, have some vacation time, etc. That means that every year you can indie publish a new novel or submit a completed 70,000-word manuscript to agents or a publisher. Every year, just like the big name authors on the New York Times bestseller list.
And here’s another secret. If you write more words, you get better at combining them into fascinating paragraphs. Writing even more means those paragraphs develop into better stories and novels. Just like lifting weights can tone and build your muscles, writing will make you a better author.
So don’t worry about your word count. If you’ve fallen so far behind you don’t think you can get to the 50K mark, don’t give up. Develop that habit of writing for an hour or two every day. The more you do it, the more you train your brain to think as an author. And remember, when November 30th comes around, it doesn’t matter what your word count is. What does matter is that you are writing, and that you’re now closer to having your first novel done. Use NaNoWriMo as a springboard, not a closed-off goal where you set down your goal of becoming a writer until next year. If you can do that, you will be a winner when next November rolls around because you can say, “I wrote a novel.” And at that point, you can stare NaNoWriMo in its virtual eye and say, “Bring it on.”