Every November, writers around the world wake up early, stay up late, and consume way too much coffee during National Novel Writing Month—NaNoWriMo for short. The goal is simple: Write 50,000 words of a new novel in a single month.
For those of you not used to daily writing goals, most serious writers strive to write 1,000 a day at least 5 days a week. So, in a good month, you're writing 20,000 words. During NaNoWriMo, the average daily goal is over 1,600 words per day, EVERY day for 30 days. It's a big shift in commitment.
Writing approximately 1,666 words every day requires you to let go of editing and self-censorship. It encourages you to free-write, forget about perfection, and discover your flow state. As someone who writes historical fiction, it also means dialing up my self-control to keep writing instead of breaking to do research. With the infinite resources of the internet at your fingertips, it's easy to lose valuable writing time to research.
During NaNoWriMo, I use the word BLANK and keep on writing. For example, she was standing at the corner of BLANK and BLANK. I don't need to stop writing to research the historically correct names of the streets in my story. Do you know how much time you can waste looking at old maps? I also free myself to write things like "this would be a really good spot to describe her father's 1920s motorboat in detail." By putting in a placeholder to do more research later, I not only stay in my writing flow state, but I also get to count those 15 words in my daily total!
This was my second year participating in NaNoWriMo and I'm so glad I did. I considered not signing up because I am also editing my debut novel, Henderson House, and have a goal to get a final manuscript to my publisher in early January. But taking on a completely new story with new characters in a different setting was invigorating. It got me waking up crazy early—like 4:30 am every morning—and cranking out my new pages before the sunrise. It reminded me that I've grown as a writer. I'm better at this than when I started Henderson House four years ago. And it helped me look at Henderson House with new eyes. You can get so close to a writing project that you lose the perspective of a reader. I think starting a new writing project enabled me to return to my earlier work as a reader and that fresh point of view is informing my editing process.
So, thank you, NaNoWriMo for another great, if zany, November. I sort of feel like a real author now that I have four drafts in the works. I'm editing Henderson House for publication and I've started the sequel, Sequoyah Road. I have my draft of Miss Oklahoma from last year's NaNoWriMo filed away, and now I have a huge crush on my new characters from The Last Golden Hour. It will be interesting to see what 2022 brings. Thanks for following my journey and all the best to you and yours for a happy and healthy holiday season!