Nanowrimo Update: Results from the 30-day writing challenge

National Novel Writing Month, or Nanowrimo, is almost over. The challenge was to write a 50,000 word book in 30 days. I had a head start because my memoir’s word count was 30,000 at the beginning of the month. It will be 45,000 by the end of the month. That’s 15,000 words or an average of 500 words per day for the month of November. I had hoped to get to 60,000 words (or a 220 page book) and write 1,000 words a day. Would I call this a failure? Surprisingly, the answer is no.

I started the month off with a bang, writing 1,300 words one day, and another 1,500 words soon after. “Yes!” I thought, “I’ll hit my target of 60,000 words before the end of the month.” Alas, this was not to be. Day after day of sitting down and writing took it’s toll. Soon I could barely squeeze 200 words per day out of my poor brain. I even had a problem speaking in full sentences. Maybe it would have been easier if I were writing fiction, but racking my brain trying to remember what happened in high school and craft it into an enjoyable story soon became very, very difficult.

Then I had a breakthrough. Around day 20, I decided to just write whatever words came to mind, hit my 1,000 word target, and worry about crafting an enjoyable story later. Let’s just get this done. I started having 1,500 word days again. I’ll have a hell of a time during the editing process, but I’m finally on a roll again. I’m finishing chapter after chapter, and will definitely complete the first draft of the book by the end of the year.

So what did this process teach me? I experientially learnt how to sit down and complete a daily goal. I knew intellectually that it would be hard, but the process of experiencing how hard it was, taught me a lot about myself and how I should approach writing my next book. Just get the words out. Just open Scrivener (my writing program). Just start with one sentence. Don’t worry about perfection. I’ll hit a roadblock around day 10, but if I keep on showing up, just sitting down every day, I’ll have a breakthrough around day 20 and start steamrolling my way forward.

Joel Osteen’s new book I Declare has a 31-day challenge. Nanowrimo is 30-days. Why? Scientists have shown that it takes 30 days to form a new habit. If I want to be a professional writer, I have to get in the habit of writing every single day. Although I didn’t hit my word count goal everyday, I formed a new habit through Nanowrimo. It was definitely worth it.

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