How NaNoWriMo Works For Me

Everyone writes at their own pace.

Some people naturally type fast, others type slow. Some people stop to think about every single scene, others just plow right through them.

The point of NaNoWriMo is this: just write, edit later.

We are actually putting Hemingway’s advice to use:

Hemingway Quote

We’re all hopped up on too much caffeine and leftover Halloween candy that we might as well be drunk as we write.

There are some people who take this advice to heart and this is how they do NaNo. Other peopleΒ don’t do NaNo for this same reason. Despite how the first draft of everything is crap, they don’t believe in writing until your fingers fall off.

Someone on my writing buddy has already hit 100k and it’s only day 10. In other words, she has been writing 10,000 words a day. I’ve done that before, but only when I have the entire day to myself. I can’t work six and half hours and then babysit for another two to three hours then expect myself to bang out 10k words after dinner.

Good for her, though. I applaud her.

Whether she has a day job or not, I assume she uses NaNo’s Word Sprints.

Word Sprinting is when you try to write as many words as you possibly can in a short period of time. Just keep typing, no editing.

I read the other day on Tumblr that someone wrote 2,000 words in 15 minutes. If I focus hard enough, I can write 2,000 words in 30 minutes.

As stated before, everyone writes at their own pace. However, is it really necessary to try to write at the speed of light just to hit 50k in 30 days?

I say no. I have my own methods to making NaNo work for me and it does not involve making more editing work for me later on.

1. Routine.

I know I talk about this one a lot, but it’s key. Supposedly it takes 21 days to make a habit. If you believe that’s all it takes, you can totally get yourself into a good writing routine.

I wake up earlier than I need to before work. I write for an hour from 5:30am-6:30am and I get my 2,000 words done.

This works because I get over the word count goal putting me a little bit ahead each day. Also, my mind is trained to be creative at that same time every morning. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow I type, I still get the words down.

2. Realistic Word Goal.

The daily goal is 1,667 words. I think that’s realistic, even though some people see that as too much. I personally shoot for 2k because I like even numbers and it puts me ahead. It gives me a small extra dose of accomplishment if I write more than what’s expected each day.

But here’s my point: I don’t say, “I’m going to sprint until I get 20k today!” and then rush my writing. I say, “I’m going to get my 2k done. I’ll write more if I can.” Then I go ahead and try to write the best chapter.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying sprinting is bad. It definitely works for some people and most people love it, but it doesn’t help me.

I try to see how many words I can write in a certain amount of time, but if I see a typo I go back to fix it.

3. Use November 30 as your Deadline.

November 30 is the last day of NaNo. Therefore, you should reach for 50k for that date. If you finish early, great! But I know there are some people that say to themselves, “I’m going to try to write 50k in the first day! I’ll be the very first person to finish on the entire site!”

Um, no.

I have seen people upload their word counts to 50k on day one. They stay up until midnight on October 31 and begin the moment the calendar changes to November 1. Then they write straight for the next 24 hours. I don’t know how people can write that long when staring at a computer screen. I don’t know how their minds are still in tact.

But you need to pace yourself. Pace your story and your characters. If you rush, you’re not going to have any idea what you wrote. You don’t want to burn yourself out too quickly.

I’m sure there will be a few people who will disagree with me, but that’s fine. I’m not saying word sprints are a bad thing and I’m not saying people who hit 50k quickly are writing nonsense just to say they won.

Everyone writes at their own pace.

But I prefer to get into a steady routine with a reasonable daily word count with the whole month to work with my story and give it the attention it deserves.

Because if you really think about it, every month can be a NaNo month if you stick with your routine after November. You can potentially have 12 novels written by the end of the year for only a couple thousand words a day.

18 thoughts on “How NaNoWriMo Works For Me

  1. We can most certainly do NaNo every month of the year (except for February >_<). Although some of us can only afford the time one month out of the year.

    I know someone who banged out 50K words in two weeks and a total of 100K words by the fourth week. Then he had to go through mass amounts of editing. That's no fun.

    I also like to shoot for 2K each day. That's about a full chapter for me. I usually finish the story in 30 chapters. Right now I am on chapter 15 with 1,500 words per chapter. It's a little less than usual, but it is still working πŸ™‚

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Awesome post (as always)! πŸ˜‰

    I agree about the routine and the pacing. I’m one of those who likes word sprints, but I don’t rush to get the words out either. They just allow me to have more focus on my writing in that amount of time. Sometimes I get a good amount of words out (although I’ve never gotten more than 800 in a single 20-minute sprint). Sometimes I don’t. I just like the focusing act it gives me.

    I tend to shoot for 2K each day. This is the first NaNo I’ve been generally lax about. I’m shooting for a chapter a day in the work I’m doing, and I’m writing anywhere from 2.5-3K per chapter. I’m also hand-writing, which is why I’m not rushing the writing honestly. If I did, my hand would hurt more than it already does. lol

    I like deadlines. I like to wave as I rush past them. lol Seriously though, that’s part of the appeal of NaNoWriMo for me: the deadline. It forces me to focus (yes, that again) on what I’m doing in the here and now and not worry about outside distractions, and I have plenty of those outside of writing.

    Good luck!

    • Thank you. πŸ™‚
      Focus, yes! That’s a good way to use the word sprints. It is great to hold peoples’ attention. I set the timer myself for an hour every once in a while, but I don’t think I’ve ever done 15 minutes or so.
      Handwriting is tough, but I applaud you. I wanted to give that a go this year, but I’m way too busy to take extra time out of my day to handwrite. Typing is so much faster.
      That’s what deadlines are for. πŸ™‚ I’ve tried giving myself deadlines before, but they just don’t work as well as NaNo. I think it’s because it’s not really “official,” lol.

      • Typing is faster yes, but NaNo (while I don’t think it should be rushed) is also about not editing, not hitting the backspace button. A little easier to do when hand-writing. πŸ˜‰

        I agree with the “official” deadlines, although it gets easier to follow deadlines when a potential publisher dishes them out to you. lol

  3. I know I am cheating a little bit by rewriting a novel instead of starting a fresh idea, but I am so seeing how plowing through and writing the first draft without stopping can be a benefit. I find it crazy that people write 50,000 words within the first day though. I just don’t see a good quality anything coming out of that. Even 10,00 words a day seems a bit…extreme. I am half way to 50,00 now, but again, I am doing a rewrite instead of working on a new idea. I have been writing 3 to 4k a day, but my goal is 2k a day.

    • That’s awesome, good job! I don’t think that’s cheating, though. If that’s the project that you feel needs to be worked on next, then so be it.

  4. Great post, Rachel! I’m a little behind NaNo, so I have to write around 2.2k words a day, but it’s working for me, too! πŸ™‚ Hopefully I’ll do double on a day one weekend, and all will be good again!
    Hope NaNo’s going good for you. πŸ™‚

  5. Whatever you did works for you, Rachel, three cheers!

    I have to assume that sprinting is great for some people, because I heard about so many people doing it. But wow, it does not work for me. I cannot even imagine writing 2,000 words in 15 minutes. Or even one hour. For NaNo I wrote the way I always do, including a lot of thinking it through before and during writing, and some editing, like rearranging paragraphs and going back to add something that came up later. For NaNo I just spent more time writing, and devoted larger chunks of time, so I could get in the groove and stay there. I probably could have gotten more than 60K out if I’d focused only on word count. But on the plus side, I didn’t end up writing myself into any awkward corners, or (so far, I think) ending up with any chapters that I’ll have to toss or completely rethink, and that’s more important to me. What a great experience it was!

    • Sprints are great, but I don’t enjoy them as much lol. I don’t like to focus solely on the word count, despite that’s what NaNo is about. I don’t want to make more work for myself later on with editing. πŸ˜‰

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