NaNoWriMo Taught Me: It’s Okay to be a Slow Writer

This is the last installment of my little NaNo taught me series. We’ve already talked about why skipping scenes isn’t a bad thing and why it’s okay to write a terrible first chapter in spite of all the pressure to write a perfect one.

Today’s topic may seem counterintuitive. Can you even call yourself a writer if you only type 500 words an hour? How will your novel ever be finished if your a slow writer?

My answer is, you have to start somewhere.

My first year doing NaNo I thought writing 50,000 words in a month was impossible. I’d never written 50,000 words on a single project in my life. I felt like I’d climbed to the top of Mount Everest every day I reached 1,667 (which is how much you need to write a day to reach 50,000 words in a month). And if I happened to go 200 words over…I was freaking Wonder Woman!

Image result for wonder woman gif

Fast forward three more years of NaNo and writing 1,667 words is no longer a challenge. That’s what I do on an off day. This year of NaNo I wrote 2,000 to 3,000 words most days. There were a few days I really nailed it and wrote 5,000 words. I actually finished NaNo on November 21, which was 9 days early.

Just to show you the amount of words I put out when I first started, here is a shot of the excel spread sheet I used to keep track of the words I wrote for a story I was working on in 2015. This wasn’t for NaNo (I don’t have a spread sheet for my first NaNo), but a project I started a few months after. From the small numbers and many skipped days, you can see why it was such a big accomplishment that I finished 50,000 words in a month.

Feb 2015

Two years ago, I only wrote 12,000 in a month. Now I can write that amount in a week.

Nov. 2017

It’s okay if you feel like a a snail slushing through mud could write a book faster. That’s how I felt when I first started, but if you keep writing you’ll build speed.

As great as speeding up my words per week is, the best thing doing NaNo taught me wasn’t how to put words down faster. It was continuing to write after NaNo was finished.

After my first year, the moment November was over I didn’t write a thing (besides blog posts of course). Two months went by before I decided to start another project like that. I’d ran my marathon. It was time for lounging on the couch with chips and dip.

What I learned from the last four years of doing NaNo was that you don’t just write seriously during November. The best way to finish your work in progress isn’t to have a super power of typing out 1,000 words in 30 minutes, but to keep writing continuously. Making writing part of your routine isn’t just something to do during November, but all year long. Keep the writing spirit as enthusiastically as Buddy keeps the Christmas spirit. 😉

Image result for buddy the elf gif

You may start out only writing 100 words a day, but if you keep at it you’ll find your words-per-day slowing increasing. Even if they don’t (which is as impossible as a weightlifter not gaining strength after dedicating themselves to training every day) you’ll still be farther along then you would have if you only got serious about writing one month a year.

Don’t be discouraged because you don’t write as fast as you would like to. You have to start somewhere. The more you do it, the better you will get.

I still consider myself a slow writer. I’ll never be Brandon Sanderson and write 300,000 in a year. But slow writers who keep writing will put out a lot more books than a fast writer who doesn’t write consistently.

No one said you had to be faster than a snail through mud. You just have to have the guts to keep writing.



NaNoWriMo taught me it's okay to be a slow writer


Do you consider yourself to be a slow writer? What’s the most you’ve written in a day? If you want to pick up your speed, you should head over to an amazing little site I discovered called You get to fight monsters by word count. It’s super fun! I wrote 1,000 words in 45 minutes because of this site. 🙂


Other posts in this series:

NaNoWriMo Taught Me: It’s Okay to Skip Scenes

NaNoWriMo Taught Me: It’s Okay to Write a Terrible First Chapter


12 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Taught Me: It’s Okay to be a Slow Writer”

  1. The most I’ve ever written in a day on any project was about 4000. That’s an anomaly lol. I’m a slow writer too. WordPress tells me I write on average 850 words a day with my sims stuff.


      1. It was insane!! Fun, but insane. It felt nice to work toward something specific, but it felt wrong to purposefully not put forth my best effort. If I decide to do this madness again, I’ll want to be more prepared. I spent a lot of time getting the overarching story together but not enough time planning the individual chapters to write. Luckily, stopping and planning more chapters midstream didn’t slow me down or hinder me, but you know…perfectionism lol.


      2. It is absolutely insane! 😀 But that’s why I like it. It forces me to let go of the perfectionism that usually holds me down. It taught me that words that are imperfect are better than no words at all. And let’s face it, my work is going to go through so many drafts that it doesn’t matter how “perfect” I try to make it. I might as well just get the words out so I have something to work with. 😛
        Yes, being prepared before it starts makes a big difference (something I didn’t do this year 😦 ).
        But hey, even if not every chapter turned out the way you wanted, you still wrote 50,000 words in a month. Most people can’t say they did that. So congrats on winning your first NaNo! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Nothing wrong with sprinting! That’s one of the nice things about writing; it’s not so much about “right” or “wrong” ways of doing things. It’s finding what works for you to get the job done.
      I happen to be pretty terrible at word sprints, though they are really useful for getting me out of that “stuck” feeling when words just aren’t coming.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I should probably rephrase, actually. I’m not very good at what other writers call “sprints” either — where you just sit down and write as fast as you can. I tend to freeze up. I call myself a “surge” writer but that’s not quite right either; I need a better word. What I mean is that I’m not very good at sitting down to write for one hour, much less for these “write your novel in ten-minute sprints” things. I get my best writing done when I have the whole day to spend on it, and a good plan for what to write, and I just write for hours and get 5000-8000 words in one day.


      2. Me too! Occasionally word sprinting will work for me, but most of the time I just feel like a deer in the headlights. 😀 I’d much rather set aside an hour or two to write.
        And yes, I love having a whole day to write. Those days are phenomenal. I think they work so well because it can take some time to get “in the zone” and if you’re doing something like word sprinting, your brain doesn’t have time to get there. And if you only set aside an hour or so, you are just barely getting into “the zone” before you have to stop.
        If you have a day, you can really step into that world and make things happen.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I have never, ever had word sprinting work for me. It’s why I *hate* workshops. Whenever the leader gives a prompt and then tells us all to write, I immediately freeze. Then I think about what to write and… yep, I’m still thinking when everyone else is done writing. But then, I have the bud of a much longer story in mind already.

        That’s exactly how I feel, getting into the zone for the whole day is just bliss!


I love hearing from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s