"NaNoWriMo is for the Crazy People"

What If

What if you had 48 hours in one day? What would you do with all of that extra time?

What if you had 24 waking hours a day? What hobbies would you pursue?

What if you had 1 hour a day to spend doing something you love, and off of that Netflix show? What would you dedicate that time to?

NaNoWriMo Isn’t Impossible

The first National Novel Writing Month project was done in 1999. Chris Baty decided (along with 10-20 other friends) in July 1999 that he wanted to write a 50,000 word novel in national novel writing month (November). He and his friends participated, though not all made the goal. They loved doing it so much that they made it a yearly tradition and got a website to host it so everyone all over the nation could participate. And pretty soon, it became an international event. Tens of thousands of writers all over the world participate every single year. And every year, a huge percentage of writers make it to that 50,000 word goal and celebrate their accomplishments in various ways.

What is 50,000, really?

Let’s break this down. 50,000 words seems like a huge amount. And the first time I participated I was ecstatic to get 20,000 words. That’s a major accomplishment for a 13 year old! (I didn’t type it at the time, I was writing it all on paper, so my numbers were probably wrong. It was hand counted, after all.) I wrote my first 50,000 word novel when I was 14. (50,469 words in November 2011 - Beyond the Unknown is now published under the pen name Rose Winters) As a 14 year old I wrote a 50,000 word novel. And I’ve done it three more times since then, out of the next 7 years I’ve participated. But what is 50,000 words?

A finished 50,000 word novel averages to about 250 words per typed page, which averages to a 200 page novel. Which is an awesome accomplishment. In NaNoWriMo it is recommended that you write 1,667 words a day to reach the 50k goal. Now, if you actually wrote exactly 1,667 words a day, in 30 days you would reach 50,010 words. I don’t know anyone who writes exactly that much every single day. But that’s the average you should be striving for every day.

I learned an interesting piece of trivia today, which inspired this post. The average american types between 38 and 40 Words Per Minute. I found out today if one were to type straight through every minute in a day (1,440 minutes) at 35 WPM, you would reach 50,400 words. Now, no one is going to sit down and write for 23 hours and 45 minutes straight in one day to reach 50,000 words. But, look at that time frame again. 23 hours and 45 minutes. So if one were to type consistently for 1 hour a day for 24 days. . . There’s your 50,400 words. One hour. Imagine what you could do with the time frame of 2 Netflix episodes a day for a month. You could write a novel.

Finding Time

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But, Mandy, don’t you know my schedule is already packed to the bursting?” And I get it. I work full time, commute to and from work which is about an hour both ways, have a side photography business, and I have a family. I know everyone has a busy schedule but here’s what I suggest.

If this challenge to yourself is important, if you want to be able to prove to yourself that you CAN do this at least once in your life, make it happen. Tell everyone about it. Get excited. That’s the first step. Telling people you’re doing this is the most important thing you can do to prepare because people learn to ask you about it. It keeps you motivated, and keeps you accountable to someone else.

Spend October getting to know your main character. That character, in order to make sure you have the motivation, should become like your family by November. They have so many secrets that they want to share with you! Learn them all in October. (I have tons of resources I can offer you if you’re interested in how to do this.)

Come November, here’s what my personal schedule will look like:

I will wake up in the morning and get a few things done before I leave for work. I leave for work around 8 am, I come home from work around 7 pm. When I come home, I will eat dinner and visit with my family. Then at 8 pm I will sit down for an hour and write. The important thing about this hour of writing time is the writing DOES NOT need to be perfect! Don’t spell check, don’t grammar check, don’t worry about continuity. If you want to use this hour to its fullest word-count possibility, just write. (I personally don’t use contraction words either in November. All of my words are do not or will not or are not. No ‘don’t’, ‘won’t’, or ‘aren’t’ in November.) November is for the roughest draft you can get out.

If you finish your story before the end of the month, and you still have word count left, then you can go back to the beginning and fluff it up a bit. Add more details here or there. (Still, I won’t use contraction words. It helps cushion that word count for a bit.)

Is It Really Worth It?

This is hard. I have been asked this by people who can’t imagine devoting an hour a day to writing. People who would rather be watching movies than coming up with their own stories. The hard part is explaining to people who don’t like to create things for themselves, that this month of writing is so individualized and such a personal challenge, they probably won’t understand at all. But you need to ask yourself this question.

Is writing a story something you’ve always wanted to do? Is writing a book in one month something that excites or terrifies you? Is being able to stand up confidently and say “I did this” something you would be proud of? How many people in the world wish they could write a book? I can guarantee you any person who has ever fallen in love with even ONE written book, has dreamed of writing their own. If you are among that list, you can absolutely do it. And this month of writing is the perfect starting point.

If you need motivation, help, resources, a board to bounce ideas off of, someone to tell you “you can do this!” shoot me an email. I would love to help you prove to yourself that you can do this.

So What If?

What if you wrote 250 words per page?

What if you wrote 1,667 per hour?

What if you wrote 1 hour per day?

What if you wrote 200 pages?

What if you wrote 50,000 words?

What if you could say you did this all on your own?

That’s a pretty amazing achievement.

What if you became a story teller?