From November 1st to 27th, I wrote the first draft of my first novel, A Story About Self-Confidence: What’s In A Name? [a thirty-day period at Eville Medical in the Sammohini Arc of “The Story“] and throughout the next few weeks, I’ll write first about what I learned then what I’ll find out about marketing this novel to sell. Let’s address the most important factor first: how many words per day can you write?
Writing 500 words per day is a good starting point.
Having completed the challenge of writing a novel in a month challenge while working full-time, I would staunchly not recommend it to others. Whether through a work event or my own drive of writing an average of 2.5 hours per day, let’s say, I experienced a series of health issues that are still sorting themselves out. If I had the month off, I probably could have cranked out the novel in less than twenty-seven days without adverse health complications.
Writing 1,667 words per day is certainly doable.
I ended up writing 2,000 words per day partially because I wanted to thoroughly squash any sense of variance between word counters in Google Docs, where I wrote most everything, WordPress where I publish things like what you’re reading, and anywhere else. Having 2,000 words as a goal also allowed me days where I might only write 1,500 words and other days where I might exceed 2,500 words.
Writing 2,000 words is also doable.
It’s just all about making sure to pace yourself. I may be delusional, due to the aforementioned health issues, but I believe I did as much as I could to keep a good writing pace throughout the month. I don’t believe the extra stress of writing something I found enjoyable to cause strain on my body. But that’s where starting off with a 500-word minimum each day, and sticking to that for months at a time, is a good starting point. If you can write at that pace without disrupting your life, you could try the NaNoWriMo challenge.
I certainly won’t be trying the challenge next year.
It was a good experiment, and I’m happy with my results that I’m going to take the next two days to edit for continuity and then publish on the evening of the 30th, but I wouldn’t recommend it to others. Even for someone like me that can write thousands of words per day for months, and who woke up thinking, “ah, shit! This is the first day since January 2019 that I didn’t write a minimum of 500 words,” but after seeing it was 10pm, realizing I still had time, it’s easier to write essays like this than fiction.
Here’s what I’d recommend for developing a writing pace:
First, start by writing for your own pleasure. This website has always operated under the notion that I write and publish what I like because maybe you’ll like it, too? The more you write, the more comfortable you’ll be at writing. I’ve left my older essays online unedited, unless due to some pertinent reason*, precisely because if I were to go back and edit them years later, it would be somewhat of a perverse notion. As a preview of what I’ll write in more focused essays later, after completing Chapter 30, I went back to Chapter 01 and edited out 20 words within a few minutes, and currently have about 10 words I can play around with for character descriptions of Fairydust and Josh.
Second, don’t look back at your older drafts.
Third, learn to trust your writing. You will probably write shitty things that offend people. If you’re not, you’re not really dipping your toes into your inner sanctum of opinions or outlook on life. We offend people just by existing. If you don’t say something that you believe in, why would we want to read it? You have to learn to be confident in the essay or fiction you publish, because if you can’t, then you won’t press through when it gets difficult. When you get home from work and still have another 400 words to write before bed, if you’re not excited with your writing, you’ll skip it and go to bed. Sometimes that excitement for you means displeasure for others. Fuck em. As long as you’re not actively trying to harm other people, you’ll probably do fine with a little flack thrown against you.
Fourth, keep pushing yourself, slowly.
Once it gets comfortable writing 500-word essays daily, write 1,000-word essays. I wrote three 1,000-word essays for about two weeks to prepare my pace for the novel and it helped. After writing almost nothing but fiction for a month, I realized that that is a medium I feel more comfortable in. It’s harder writing fiction than essays because you have to imagine hypothetical worlds, but once you’re in that world, and you give the characters the space to breathe and express themselves, going back to essay writing like this feels a little flat.
I’ll definitely be writing more fiction.
It just won’t be at the same kind of pace. I might rather write the next novel over the course of two or three months with the same scope of thirty chapters with 2,000-word word counts. 2,000 words per chapter gives the stories sufficient space to breathe. When I wrote 500-word short stories over the years, I liked what I did, but they felt skeletal compared to these fleshed-out not-as-short stories. To get to that point, though, I had to write those 500-word short stories and all the essays on this website.
So don’t burn yourself out trying to compete for a novel in a month.
When you get to the point where you can write fiction that you enjoy enough to want to ask others to read and review, then just note that NaNoWriMo can be closer to a Pyrrhic victory, even if you prepare yourself mentally and physically as much as you can. If you’re still interested… cool.
I won’t try that pace again until I can have a dedicated month.
|Sources: My personal and professional experiences.|
|Inspirations: I wasn’t sure where to start with these essays, because I was kind of thinking of starting with how tempting it is to go back and re-write, but I figured, hey, you’re probably more interested in reading about whether or not you should try. Well, buddy, if I had this essay locked and loaded into my mind palace’s mailbox, and my inner mind management team of buddies got this essay and read it as a team to prepare themselves for how I would go about my future, they probably woulda said ‘ya know what, give that whole novel-writing thing a go, but uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh if you can, like, umm, maybe try to get that headache stuff sorted out sooner.’ At least in two days when I go back in for the fifth [5th] doctor’s visit in November 2019, I will finally have had the ammunition to say “X,” “Y,” and “Z” doesn’t work, “A” worked years ago, and here’s what I think it’ll work for me again, gimme that “A,” unless you think “B’ll” work out better, then doctor buddy, give me that “A” and “B,” and let’s get this done. If you skipped to the bottom, the answer is: yes.|
|Related: Other 2019 Novel writings.|
|Picture: Have something prepped? It makes it easier.|
|Written On: November 28th, 2019 [10:53pm to 11:35pm, 41 minutes, listening to Ash and Dust by Year of the Cobra]|
|Last Edited: November 28th, 2019 [First draft; final draft for the Internet]|