I credit National Novel Writing Month ( NaNoWriMo) with helping me to establish a daily writing habit that has continued for almost two years now. If you're not familiar, NaNoWriMo is an online "competition," which challenges people to write 50,000 words in the month of November. The idea is to get yourself to finally write that novel you've been planning since forever.
It's not for the faint of heart. To "win" (and it really is just a competition with yourself), you have to write on average 1667 words a day - that's a lot. When it's not November, I feel happy if I hit 500 words a day. A great day is if I go over 750 (like I did this morning!). So to complete 50,000 words in one month, that would mean I'd have to write over double the number of words of what I consider to be a good day - for thirty days straight. Or I don't know, binge-write on the weekends? Who's got the time for that? Sounds impossible, doesn't it?
Last year, I didn't actually do NaNoWriMo. I kept writing on my own, but I didn't want to feel pressured to hit that word count. Doing the competition once had taught me some writing habits, and I thought that was enough.
But you know what? I may actually do it this year. I realized the other day that if I wrote 50,000 words on my novel that it would actually be finished. I could quite futzing around with the first four chapters and just get it done; all 22 chapters or so that I have planned. Yes, it would be an unreadable, rough draft, but it would be finished.
At the rate I've been going, my book is starting to feel like this thing that I'll forever be working on with no real intention of finishing (a perverse neverending story), and that's not what I want. I don't want to be that person that is working on their novel for ten years. It's not that good, so I can't let it take that long. And even if it's not that good, I still want to get it done so I can read it!
So yeah, I've decided this is the month. Come this November, I'm going to do my best to hit that 50,000 word goal, even if it seems totally unrealistic to write at that rate. But that's what I need, because I've been getting into this bad habit of self-editing as I write. Sometimes, I'll work on the same paragraph for two or three days before moving on . And then, I'll come back later and rewrite it again. I'm not getting anywhere with those bad habits.
The last few mornings, I've been purposely writing in a less focused way. I have an idea what I want the characters to do and feel, and I write that, and I don't read it. I just keep moving on. That's what I'm going to have to do if I ever want to finish this book. And that's what I need to learn next from NaNoWriMo.
So let's do this. NaNoWriMo, are you in?