Okay, as you can tell by the digital badge on the right side of the blog here, I’m NaNoWriMo-ing this month. NaNoWriMo is the abbreviated term for National Novel Writing Month, a challenge for writers to write every day, with a month-end goal of 50K words. In some genres, fifty thousand words IS a novel.
I did it last year for the first time, and if my memory serves me, it felt easier then. But I was in the final throes of the first draft of my manuscript; the story was racing toward the finish, pulling me along behind like a water skier across a calm lake. This year, I’m still coming up to speed. I know the story and characters, but I’m still thinking about what and where I’m going. When I restarted GLAMOUR on October 26th, I was comfortably writing about 1250 words per day. This was very close to my daily average for the first two-thirds of the FATE manuscript. At the time, I was calculating pages based on 250 words per page, and I figured that five pages a day was pretty good.
However, over the course of this year, I’ve learned a thing or two about word-to-page calculations. Fixed fonts (like Courier) do indeed calculate out to 250 words per page, but most agents and publishing-types (excuse the pun) insist on Time Roman submissions, which are closer to 330-350 words per page. All of a sudden, my 1250-word daily quota doesn’t look like much. And in order to meet the NaNoWriMo challenge, the daily target is a lot closer to 1700.
Consistency has never been a problem for me. F
or the last two years, I’ve written nearly every day (I take a day off about once every ten days). I find it takes me about three hours to finish the first twelve hundred words. That’s also about the time the dogs come in and put their chins on my lap or slap me with the Frisbee to tell me it’s time to come out and play. But instead of stopping for the day, now I’m just noting where I am and telling myself okay, I’m half-way there; just keep going.
Even though it feels like my tank is empty, I force myself to start feeling my way through the next paragraph and the next and the next. The next time I raise my head out of the story, my word count has passed 2k words, and it’s nearly four o’clock in the afternoon. I feel really good about how much I’ve gotten done and guilty about ignoring the pups for so long (and we go for an extra-long walk). So (for me at least), the lesson is that even if the tank feels empty, there’s still miles in the fumes. A little extra push can put you that much further ahead each day. And that’s what NaNoWriMo is all about.