Preptober is upon us and I see writing groups scrambling to finish their, sometimes incredibly extensive prep, for NaNoWriMo. Then they’re going to settle in for a whole month of intense writing sprints, where they whip themselves to churn out words.

I’ve talked before about how NaNoWriMo just isn’t for everyone. Writing like that doesn’t suit every writer.

A novel is defined as any book-length project that contains 50,000 words or more. The month of November has 30 days. So, at minimum, you should be writing 1,667 words a day, or approximately 11,700 words a week.

1,6k is about one scene, and if you’ve got a lot of planning already put into the outline, you can simply sit down and write the required words. But if this isn’t your normal working pace, be prepared to a) fall behind and b) feel exhausted by the end of November, if not sooner.

As many books as have been written and published from work done during NaNoWriMo (with varying degrees of quality), and as well intentioned as the idea is, it just isn’t for everyone.

“Writing a novel alone can be difficult, even for seasoned writers. NaNoWriMo helps you track your progress, set milestones, connect with other writers in a vast community, and participate in events that are designed to make sure you finish your novel.”

— nanowrimo.org

I appreciate the idea, I really do. But I’ve also seen countless writers get geared up for this one month, burn out, lose interest in their project and never quite recover. Worst of all, they stopped writing entirely because that one month gave them a very warped idea of what writing is like.

In the end, writing is like any other job. It’s boring as hell some days. You don’t feel like doing it. You feel like everything you write is shit. You feel like nothing makes sense and you’re never going to finish that book.

But writing a novel is a marathon. Writing for a living is a marathon. You just show up every day, do what you can with the resources you have that day (because fiction writing is resource-intensive work and you can’t write fiction well if you’re not taking care of yourself) and do your best.

Let me repeat: you do your best.

You put down words on the page. You edit words on the page. You delete or add words on the page. That’s all it is. Consistently and persistently over a long period of time.

You take breaks, you work on other projects, you give your brain a break because cognitive fatigue will tank the quality of your writing. Touch grass and remember to live life. There’s no need to rush to finish your book.

“Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be — an author, primarily of fiction, making good books, making good comics and supporting myself through my words — was a mountain. A distant mountain. My goal. And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop, and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain. I said no to editorial jobs on magazines, proper jobs that would have paid proper money because I knew that, attractive though they were, for me they would have been walking away from the mountain. And if those job offers had come along earlier I might have taken them, because they still would have been closer to the mountain than I was at the time.”

— Neil Gaiman

All the love, all the power ❤️‍🔥


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