To reach the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) goal of 50,000 words, the organization suggests writing 1,667 words a day. Writing 1,667 isn’t tough; it only involves about an hour or two of time to write that much. Despite the ease of that daily word count, however, I find myself struggling with the challenge. My problem with keeping up with the NaNoWriMo challenge is not the word count itself, but that 30 days is not a realistic time period for that goal. Simply put, I do not have time to write every day…and so I fall behind.
Between having two jobs, an out of town trip early in the month, and the occasional day where I would have time after work, but made plans with family/friends that kept me from returning home to write there have been many days where I did not write that 1,667 goal. (And with Thanksgiving coming up, spending time with family/friends will be more frequent.) A more dedicated NaNoWriMo participant might forgo a social life in order to write, but not me.
Though I kept up with the challenge for the first four days of November, my first day of not writing made me realize why this goal is so tough. With my current schedule I don’t have time to write every day, and I don’t have enough “off” days to catch up what I missed.
Already I am realizing what I expected to be true before starting the NaNoWriMo challenge; I am not going to write 50,000 words this November. I can, however, write as much as I can when I have the free time. That might only amount to 20,000 by the end of the month (or maybe less), but that is still impressive. The most I’ve ever written on anything is around 10,000, and that was a for an academic school paper.
The purpose behind NaNoWriMo isn’t to write 50,000 words…it is to write as much as you can. Sure, there is a target of 50,000, but the website you register with celebrates every word. (Nor does it criticize you for falling off target.) Though NaNoWriMo is a 50,000 word challenge, the goal is not so much about writing that many words as it is about getting participants to write in the first place. Unfortunately, most participants do not realize this, so they quit after one day of falling behind.
So, as I continue to write this month, I know I won’t “finish” by writing 50,000 words. But I do plan to write more than I ever have before.