Goal is to Finish a First Draft

My plan was to start writing this year’s novel early so I could have a more reasonable pace and still finish in November. After nine years of doing NaNoWriMo, my issue hasn’t been being able to write a lot every day, but the toll that takes in terms of body strain. My lowest word count was 77,000 which was the first year I did NaNoWriMo. My highest was 201,228 – the insane year I drafted two entire novels. That’s a daily average of 6,707. The goal of NaNoWriMo is 50,000 which works out to 1,667 per day.

So, I know I can write a lot of words in a month. I can finish a first draft of a novel or even two. I even like what I write. But I wondered if I could maintain a more sane pace. Last year I managed to finish with 100,007 words with an average pace of 3,333. I could probably do that again. But why? Why not start early? This is my tenth year of doing NaNo and I believe that best use of my regular participation is to enhance my year-long writing practice. I write/edit daily and have for years. So I don’t need NaNo to help me form the writing habit. I like outlining before plunging into writing the first draft and I like staying focused on that draft until it’s done. NaNoWriMo works with those. I like writing 100,000 or more words as the first draft without straining my body. NaNoWriMo isn’t so good with that. Although it does have the concept of being a rebel—someone who isn’t starting with a brand new novel on November 1st.

I started in early September without worrying about working on it daily and wrote 12,000 words. Then in October I started writing daily with a goal to write ‘on average’ a thousand words. I wrote 38,000 in October, for an average of 1225 words a day. Not bad. There were some days I wrote only a few hundred words, most days I was around the thousand mark. I started to worry around mid-October that I wasn’t going through the outline fast enough which would mean that the novel was more like 120,000 or more words. So I’m glad to have written a few thousand of those in October. I plan on writing less expansively if possible. One of the things writing less per day is that I’m more willing to write description which takes me much longer.

I expected to miss the heady feeling of not being able to wait to start my novel, but there is some anticipation in being able to share with the Naperville region of NaNoWriMo. I’ll start counting words on November 1st with the goal of finishing the first draft in November and only count the words I write in November.

While I feel a little less enthusiastic about November 1st approaching, I realize that my emotions are a little down because my mother died a year ago. Yesterday was her birthday, so it’s a little hard to be giddy with excitement. (Honestly, I have been in the past.) But, I’m looking forward to seeing if I can average 2,000 words a day in November. I like to get-ahead, so I may try for 3,000 the first week. We’ll see.

About Katherine Lato

Writer, thinker, observer and participant in life.
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