This is an article I wrote for Friday Flash and they have kindly allowed me to re-blog it on my own blog. If you're interested in more articles about writing, flash fiction, or would like to connect with some fellow writers, please go to their website.
To win NaNoWriMo all you need to do is write 1,666 words per day, every day for the 30 days in November. That doesn’t sound too hard, does it?
Stephen King writes ten pages per day, which amounts to roughly 2,000 words (Stephen King,On Writing, p.176) every day, averaging 60,000 words per month. Keeping up that momentum, you could quite easily write a first draft in two to three months. But is that pace realistic, especially for writers who don’t write full-time? Does the NaNoWriMo challenge make you a better writer, or is it just an exercise of willpower?
I understand – reading between the lines of forums and emails – that I had a fairly typical NaNo experience: good first week, dreadful second week, slightly better third week and bumper fourth week. I even finished with a couple of days to spare and by the end was writing 4,000-5,000 words per day. But did I keep the momentum going? Nope. This is almost the first thing I’ve written since, and it’s almost mid-December (at the time of submitting this article). I find myself wondering whether it’s worth having a mega month if it’s going to be followed by an appalling one.
Many people have asked me what I have done with my “book”. Well…nothing, so far. My frantically typed 50,095 words are nowhere near up to scratch and will need heavy editing. Della Galton writes in her blog post NaNoWriMo So Far that she also finds time in November to edit, polish and submit her work. By December 3rd she had already sold her second NaNoWriMo story. This level of achievement is but a mere dream for the average NaNo writer. I will be reopening my document with a fair amount of trepidation in the hope that some of it is usable.
But has doing the NaNoWriMo challenge made me a better writer? I don’t think so. I usually write my first draft by hand, and when I type it up a week or so later, I edit it into a second draft. I definitely didn’t have time to do that with NaNo. Many writers, especially ones starting out, have full-time jobs, maybe families, to whom even squeezing in an hour a day can seem impossible.
The main lesson I learned was something I already knew: to be a writer takes time and dedication.