As I mentioned in some previous posts and in greater depth on Patreon, I’ve recently started teaching writing classes. It’s been an incredibly fulfilling experience. My favorite part of the gig is telling students what they’re good at. Regardless of ability, whether they’re beginner, intermediate, or advanced, I’m finding that many of them have never been told what they do well as writers.
Which is a shame, isn’t it? It’s very telling re: the tone of traditional education that people aren’t aware of their strengths. Because there’s no knowledge gap when it comes to their weaknesses. My students generally know what they aren’t good at. People have been quick to tell them that.
Anyway, one of my students mentioned NaNoWriMo early on this summer as something he’d done in the past and enjoyed. What’s that? National Novel Writing Month, a challenge that started in 1999 and continues to this day. It’s a simple, yet ambitious goal — to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. Here’s a link to their website with more information.
That comes out to an average of 1667 words a day. That’s a lot to a beginning writer. At this point in my career, having worked full time as a writer for 5+ years now, that’s steady progress on a book but not max speed. The most progress I’ve managed on a book project in a single day has been about 10,000 words. However, it would be insane to do that 5 days in a row.
And anyone can tell you, having one marathon writing session is one thing. Consistently turning out steady output is another altogether.
In my own situation, I have multiple other writing projects ongoing (daily posts here at this site, my weekly serial episode, etc.) in addition to an awful lot of work in social media management.
I Had Roughly 50,000 Words Left on My Project at the End of October
As it happened, I would go on to have roughly 50,000 words left on the book I was writing (Psychic Salvation, Psychic State #5) as the end of October approached. I have a few manuscripts at the editor getting prepared for publication, but I need another book to hand them once those are handled.
And frankly, this book started out a-blazing but has slowed to a crawl the past few months. Part of it is that I really like it. Might seem counterintuitive, but it gets difficult to make progress on books when I really like them or think they’re good. I start worrying about messing it up — and then psyche myself out.
So I made the decision to do NaNoWriMo for the first time. My goal would be to finish the first draft of the book I was working on (which will be about 100-120K, judging by my outline, when all is said and done). And I’d do it with my students.
By the time this post comes out, I’m sure I’ll have been doing it for a while. As I’m writing, it’s November 3 — so I’m on the third day of the challenge. So far, I have squeaked by all 3 days of my word count requirement but just barely.
So far I’m finding that it’s been extremely helpful in generating some social pressure. I really don’t want to disappoint my students by falling behind, so I’m grinding every day, doing my best to identify areas that I could write and making sure I hit my word count.
Anyway, I mostly wanted to share with y’all that I was doing it — and to tell you that if you’re doing the challenge yourself this year that you’re not alone.