I know that NaNoWriMo is set up with a specific word count in mind. And word counts are, indeed, a useful way to keep track of you progress. However, do not get obsessed with them. The world will not end if you don’t meet your daily word count. Nor will it end if you don’t have 50,000 words at the end of November.
I’m seeing too many people stressing out about word counts and beating up on themselves when they fall short of them. Cut yourself some slack!
NaNoWriMo is meant to be a fun, companionable way to try your hand at novel writing. That means that over the month you’re going to start to learn what kind of writer you are.1 One of the things you might learn is that you are not a fast writer. There is no shame in that. Lots of very fine writers are slow. Nalo Hopkinson rarely writes more than 500 words a day. Doesn’t get in the way of her producing many wonderful books.
You may also discover that you’re a very fast writer. No shame in that either. I swear I’ve seen Maureen Johnson bang out 20,000 words in a single sitting. That would kill me. She continues to live and breathe and write more wickedly funny words.
Give yourself permission to enjoy NaNoWriMo. So if at the end of the day you’ve only written 150 words, celebrate those words. Do a 150-word dance! Same if it was a one-word day or a six-thousand word day.
Some of you won’t get anywhere near 50,000 words in the month. Perhaps you’ll spend a lot of time thinking about your novel. That’s writing too. There are many writers who need to nut the whole novel out first in their heads before they can start writing. Could be you’re one of those.
Like I said, use the month of November to explore. Whatever you wind up with—on paper or in your head—you’ll know more about yourself as a writer.
- I’m still not entirely sure what kind of writer I am. Sometimes two thousand words a day is easy, sometimes it kills me. [↩]