NaNoWriMo 2018, Day 30


I officially finished NaNoWriMo 2018 on November 26, though my draft is far from complete. That’s okay, since without exception, all of my novels are well beyond 50,000 words. This is my eighth NaNoWriMo win in a decade of writing (3 non-complete/non-participant times for those counting). According to NaNoWriMo, I’ve logged 476,015 words in that time.

If you believe that you must write a million words to expertise, I’m only halfway there.[1] That assumes that it is focused, direct, and deliberate practice. That’s not case for NaNoWriMo—at least not for me. Yes, it is focused and direct, but what I am deliberately practicing is not writing itself, but storytelling. You could say that storytelling is an aspect of writing, but I think writing is a much broader base upon which storytelling is built. I’ve mastered neither storytelling nor writing, but I have progressed to the point where I am writing every day—anywhere from a 150-1,000 words on average. Even at the low end of the scale (150 wpd), I can write a 50,000 word novel in a year. At the high end, it’s every 2 months. Currently, I’m writing back story and physics for my military sci-fi novel. It won’t make it into the novel, but it adds to the depth of the story when I revise.

Me: What do the next ten years hold for me as a writer? More novels and the wealth of what’s written will exceed what I’ve done on NaNoWriMo.[2] And who knows? I may change my mind and do another NaNoWriMo. For now, I’m happy to support the program as it has helped me achieve my own goals.

You: Is NaNoWriMo for you? If you like external validation/challenge and you’re self-motivated to write, then it’s just enough impetus to get you over the hump of your internal challenge. And, if you’re capable of hitting 1,667 words per day (if you’ve never written that much before in a day, it can take some time to work that writing muscle), you can do it. And finally, it’s in November—a lot of things happen in a month and in America, Thanksgiving is a large holiday. If you’re the person who can overcome adversity to pursue a private passion, you’ll succeed. So 1. exterior validation/challenge, 2. self-motivation, 3. writing grit, and 4. overcoming adversity are what can grant you success in NaNoWriMo, but it won’t guarantee it.

[1] Karen Woodward has an interesting article on the 1,000,000 words trope, based on 10,000 hours of deliberate practice popularized by K. Anders Ericsson (and further expanded on by Geoff Colvin and Malcolm Gladwell).

[2] I should hit 1,000,000 published words around 10 books into this venture.