Self-Publishing Sunday: NaNoWriMo

selfpub_sundaysToday begins National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The goal of the month is to help writers who might be having trouble writing consistently to get into the habit.

During NaNoWriMo, writers are supposed to write enough so they can complete a 50,000 word novel in one month. This translates to roughly 1,667 words per day.

Some people decry NaNoWriMo saying you shouldn’t force writing. That writing is art and needs to be nurtured and loved and drain out when it’s ready. Of course, these are not people making a living from writing. In order to make a living from writing–and most job, really–you have to do it consistently, usually on a daily basis. So, NaNoWriMo, in my opinion is more like turning writing into your job, one that requires 1,667 words of input each day. Think of it as a sales job paid on commission. As soon as you hit the commission point, you can knock off for the day, or try to get a little ahead so you can do less the next day.

Now, in the past, I’ve never done NaNoWriMo. It’s a tough month for me, as I’ve got both my husband and son’s birthdays along with Thanksgiving in the month. That’s 3 days when I know I’ll be fairly busy, and it seems less than ideal to start a project that requires daily input when you know you’re losing three days.

However, this year, I’ve decided to give it a try. What changed? I have a project I want to finish. A project I’d wanted to start in October, but haven’t had a chance because I was behind on a different project.  My friend Jim suggested I do NaNoWriMo as a way to kickstart this little project.

Once I thought about it a little, I decided he was right. I’d try it. So, this year, I’m doing my first ever NaNoWriMo. The good news is, NaNoWriMo’s word count is only a little more than my own personal word count goal of 1,500 per day. I’m actually behind on my word count for the year. So far this year, I’ve written 363,000 words. We’re on the 303rd day of the year, so I should’ve written about 453,000 words. Wow! That’s like 100,000 behind (more than I thought).

Even though I’m behind, tracking my word count this year has been helpful. Looking back at my log has showed me I can definitely complete the word count. I’ve had two 50,000 word months so far: 50,592 in February and 50,712 in April. My word count includes novels, short stories, as well as blog posts, so those 50K months weren’t all single projects. However, the fact that I did it makes me feel fairly confident I can succeed again. The key will be focused writing on one project, and making sure I know what I want to write in the story for that day. That will mean, when I finish a writing session, planning for the next one mentally, and writing down a couple of sentences (or bullet points) expressing what needs to be written at the next session. I also plan to try to frontload this thing, too. Stuff happens, and there are days when writing 1,667 words isn’t possible, so my hope is to, on any days I feel like I’ve got a little stamina, to write as much as I can, so on those days when life gets in the way, I don’t fall too far behind.

If I’m successful at NaNoWriMo, I’ll have an awesome word count for this month, as it’ll be higher than 50k, because I still have other writing I need to do (blog posts).

I have a mini outline and I’m ready to rock and roll. Since we rolled our clocks back last night, I got an extra hour to work, so things are looking up already with this project.

So, who else is doing NaNoWriMo this month? Any thoughts or tips?

About RJ Crayton

RJ Crayton is a former journalist who now writes fiction. She's reported for the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle, as well as the smaller publications Education Technology News and Campus Crime. She has two published novels, Life First and Second Life and blogs for Indies Unlimited and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. For exclusive content and first looks at her new work, sign up for the newsletter at
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3 Responses to Self-Publishing Sunday: NaNoWriMo

  1. Dale says:

    Good luck, RJ. I haven’t joined Nano since 2007, but I want to do it again next year. It is fun and it’s a great way to have an excuse to write every day for a month no matter what or who turns up. 🙂

    • RJ Crayton says:

      Thanks Dale. Had a good day one, getting 2,100 words. But need to get in there for day two. It’s always the stamina that’s the problem in these long-haul writing deals.

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