NaNoWriMo for people too busy to write 50k words

Only 4 days until NaNoWriMo!

What is NaNoWriMo? Look here. Basically it is a world-wide word count challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

I have yet to ever write 50,000 words in one month. I haven’t even come close. The most I’ve ever done is 15,000 words and I was pretty proud of that! I saw a post on Twitter with the hashtag #turtlewriters. I really relate to that. I am one who loves to think too much, which makes me slow.

Another reason I never get 50k words written is the lack of time. I work full time as a teacher. I have a husband and one six-year-old who deserve my time. I have a house to clean. (I do a poor job of that.) I’m also in grad school, studying to be a school librarian. Insanity, right? Finding time to write is difficult, but it is the same as finding time to read in a crazy busy world.

So what is one to do if they can’t do 50k words? Can you still participate in NaNoWriMo? YES! I must confess: Competitiveness is not one of my strengths. The only person I enjoy competing against is myself.

Here are some things you can do regardless of your expected word count:

  1. Join NaNoWriMo

    Join and feel good that you are working towards your goal, undeterred by outside expectations. Progress is progress no matter how big or small. (That sounds like Dr. Seuss doesn’t it.)

  2. Set your own goal.

You might try setting your goal at a word count that is realistic for you: 10k for the month. You might try a daily word count: 100 words a day? 300 words a day?

Or you might try setting a time goal. I am going to try setting my alarm clock to get me up at 5:30am so I can write for 30 minutes every morning. I’ll still enter my daily word amount into the NanoTracker just because I’m obsessed with seeing progress. I will not stress over how many or how few.

For me November is all about refocusing my efforts on my writing. How can I be better? How can I create or recreate the habit of writing?

3. Check out your local NaNo Forum in the forums pages.19227060_442682126090876_6788512801389281280_n

Well actually just look at the Forums page in general. It is a huge list of resources. Look at a forum just for newbies, a forum by genre, or by region. There are resources there to help you prep for Nano. Right now there are 47,000 actively online as I write this. (Seriously, they have a counter thing on the bottom of the page. I guess they are big on numbers!) That is a lot of potential writers that you might click with. Many lifelong friendships have been found via Nanowrimo.

4. Follow through with your goal.

Commit! If it will help you, ask a friend to check on your progress each week. Did you write every day? Did you write at least 5 days this week? Whatever your personal goal is, have them ask you. I am one of those annoying people that uses Facebook as my accountability group.  I’ve told the world that I have a goal to write and publish a book one day. Friends ask me frequently, how is the book coming? Sometimes that is a drag because I am reminded that I’m not making fast progress. It is good more often than not because I want to be able to say, “I’m done with the rough draft of the first manuscript, and now I’m focusing on writing a few short stories to hone certain skills before I go back to edit the book.” (That really is where I am right now.) But I digress….

5. Log your words into the tracker, or make your own tracker.

I absolutely LOVE seeing progress. It is the number one thing that keeps me motivated. The big 50 k chart on NaNo is somewhat depressing because of the scale, so I’ll likely make my own chart. Perhaps I’ll share mine once I have it made.

6. Participate in a Write-in or Word Sprint

Write-ins are a lot of fun! I belong to The North Texas Rough Writers Nano group. I found them through Nano and keep in touch via Facebook all year round. We share all the writerly stuff: funny comics, problems with our stories, crazy questions for our stories. Last year I went to my first write-in with them at a Denny’s. We started around 9pm and went until we could write no more. I actually got about 1,500 words written that night before I had to tap out at 2 am. Others were able to make it until 6 am! I am just not that spry anymore. It was so nice and quiet for thinking. When we needed a brain break, we ordered some food and liquid caffeine or talked to each other.

Some of the write-ins are held at churches and do a potluck, snack your way through the night kind of thing. Some of the bigger ones offer games, prizes, and writing exercises to keep participants awake and motivated.

Now, if you are super introverted or shy and you are like, “People, face-to-face, um…No.” Then may I suggest a digital write-in or even word sprints. Go on Twitter any afternoon or evening and sometimes mornings. Look up the hashtag #wordsprint or #Nanowrimo .

I believe the spirit of NaNoWriMo is not the 50k words; it is about challenging each other to form and reinforce the habit of writing. It is about finding friends and helping each other become better writers, fulfilling our dreams, and meeting our goals (however big or small they are).

I wish you all a very happy NaNoWriMo! May your ideas flow through your fingers easily!

Here is a link to my NaNoWriMo Tracker for Turtle Writers.

5 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo for people too busy to write 50k words

  1. I’m not commuting officially this year, but plan to use the “goal tracker” page and hope that the event’s activity will rub off on me. I would make my participation official, but I’m editing this year and keeping track of editing is complicated.

    In the years I have participated officially, I’ve set my own goals. My drafts are too short for 50K and yes, time is hard to come by. I have however, written as much as 42K during the camp session, but that was because I had more free time that summer than I think I’ve had in the rest of my life.

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  2. I did it once. It nearly killed me. LOL Not really, but 50,000 words was… difficult. At some points, I wrote what amounted to jibberish. I killed off or added characters just to keep going with the story, which was becoming way too much to keep up with. I kept the certificate and the 1/2 finished novel for about six years. Then I tossed everything. You know, the foundation of the story was good… maybe I should start over?


  3. I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo because I write creative nonfiction, and I never expected that I would fit in. But after reading your post, I am inspired to join! I love the idea of forums for different genres. And I think a write in would be lots of fun. I’ll look for the North Texas Rough Writers group, I’m a neighbor in Plano Texas. 😉

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