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!
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.
Two years ago, I only wrote 12,000 in a month. Now I can write that amount in a week.
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. 😉
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.
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 4thewords.com. 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: