It is well into week two of NaNoWriMo, dear readers, and I have decided that I need to seriously reconsider my approach to the event. As you may have noticed from last week’s posts, I have been getting increasingly stressed out due to the fact that I am well below my targeted word count. This stress has seriously diminished the quality of my writing, which in turn is causing me to a.) hate my novel to the point of giving up on it, and b.) seriously question my abilities as a writer. Just a teeny bit counterproductive, considering the point of NaNoWriMo is to encourage people to write books, not to have them toss out their projects and/or stop writing altogether.
The fact of the matter is that I have never been a marathon writer. I have never been able to sustain writing large quantities of creative material for more than a day or two without taking a break, and when I was writing my thesis in grad school and had to churn out big chunks of writing day after day like this, the quality suffered. I thought that outside of the classroom and workshop setting things might be different, but, alas, that is just not turning out to be the case. What can I say? I’m a slow writer. More than that, I’m a slow writer who doesn’t write well in quantity over quality situations. And you know what? I’m *really* happy I know that about myself now, because I didn’t before I attempted NaNoWriMo. Got to love personal epiphanies, right?
Because of this, I have decided to adjust my approach to NaNoWriMo. I am no longer aiming to hit 50,000 words by December 1. It’s just not going to happen, and trying to force it is going to do more harm than good. What I’m going to do instead is substitute my daily word count goal with a daily working time goal. In other words, rather than trying to hit 2k words every day, I’m going to write for a set period of time every day instead.
The plan right now is to do four hours of work every day, split into two 2-hour sessions with an hour and a half long break in between to glean inspiration via reading (and to avoid becoming brain dead from writing overload). I’ll write for longer than four hours on good days where I get into a groove and want to keep going, and on bad writing days I’ll stop after the fourth hour; also, I will still be writing in an essentially stream of consciousness style, with the intention of intensively editing everything in December. This is what I’ve been doing since November 1st, albeit the sessions will be shorter and there will only be two now (instead of however many it took for me to hit my daily word count).
If all goes according to plan, this new strategy will allow me to keep moving forward with my novel so that by the time December 1st comes around I’ll have 80-90% of the novel done, and hopefully have the entire rough draft completed before the new year. And who knows? Maybe I’ll have a break through and finish it by the end of the month; maybe I’ll even end up hitting 50k words. Anything is possible. But does it really matter if I don’t, so long as the draft is eventually finished? I don’t think it does.