One crazy late late night in 2007 I logged nearly 4,000 words of good writing in less than two hours.
When I did NaNoWriMo some years ago, I made myself write somewhere around 10,000 words each day for a couple of days toward the end. The days were wide open, it wouldn’t matter how bad the words were, and it was then or never. The words splattered on the page, the quality somewhere between bad and terrible. But I did it. I met my production goal, wrote 50,000 words in 30 days. Knowing what I do, though, about the quality of the story, I haven’t looked at those words since.
As things looked at the beginning of this November, I had good margin in my life, with some days open just to write. I knew exactly how it would go. I was going to repeat what I had done before, but at the very beginning of the month. I’d blast out tens of thousands of words in the first couple of weeks, and then coast easy–or keep charging, wildly exceeding expectations!!–toward the end of the month.
It didn’t work out that way. Writing was painful and it was hard to enter “the zone.” I kept hitting and glancing off the surface of the water, as it were, rather than being able to plunge through and effortlessly FLOW beneath the surface. Oh, flow might happen eventually, but it was long and laborious work getting there. The words inched along.
I came to be very grateful that I had come up with an extremely small daily minimum for myself: 500 words every day but Sunday would make me a success. I cannot tell you how many times I would have given up had I set a “real” goal, like 3,000 daily words. But even if it’s late, I’m tired, and have nothing to give, I can still, even if laboriously, chug out 500 words. My real hope was that the 500 would take me into flow and swimming effortlessly beneath the surface until I’d emerge miles away. But when flow did happen, it never resulted in mega numbers.
So where am I? At 26,000 words. Meaning, just past the halfway point though we’re two-thirds into the month. Meaning, behind.
I am choosing to consider myself a success, though. I have 26,000 more words than I did before toward my deeply-felt novel. More importantly, I have been faithful. Every writing day I sat down and wrote my 500 or more words. And I’m continuing to do so.
I don’t know how this NaNo story will end. My schedule has ballooned, these latter weeks of the month, all margin pretty much eaten up. I can’t count on beautiful open days in which to write myriads of words. Besides, this time I am seeking to produce readable writing.
It’s OK. I’m writing on. 500 words after 500 words, eventually I’ll get there.
-Sabina I. Rascol