Participating in NaNoWriMo Without Attempting to Write 50,000 Words

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We’re halfway through November, which means it’s the midway point of NaNoWriMo.

Just like millions of other writers, I started on 1 November. I had outlined my novel, created my characters and got going.

Without the intention of reaching 50k.

Why I’m Not Writing 50,000 Words During NaNoWriMo

I feel NaNoWriMo is a wonderful platform to get people to write, to push yourself to get more words on paper than originally intended.

I also feel different word counts work for different people. I personally wrote the 50k once and you know what? It was all crap. I had just written to write and, while writing, my story changed as it always does. I didn’t have the time to look critically at my plot again and just ploughed through.

What was left? One useable first chapter.


It just didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to turn out, but it did leave me with something positive: it got me into the writing mindset.

This year, I’ve decided to change what I want to achieve during NaNo.

Using NaNoWriMo the Way You Want

There are lots of writers out there, who are perfectly capable of writing 50,000 words in one month and are left with something ready for rewriting. Some for instance do extensive outlining to prepare themselves for November.

I admire them. I wish I could be them.

There are others who just enjoy the rush of writing 50k and the social events that are part of NaNo. NaNo is more than the 50k after all.

I feel like the 50k is a boundary that pushes people to write more than they think they’re capable of. To get down and dirty and not aim for perfect.

I also feel writers can take NaNoWriMo and adopt it into something that works for them. I’ve met some writers who write 100k in one month (how? teach me your magic) and are not at all worried about the way it turns out. They just enjoy NaNo for the sheer pleasure of writing.

I met writers who really struggle and end up, like me, with something they’re not really happy with and they’d rather have written slower and been able to go back and have a think about the plot.

Whichever road you take, the concept of NaNoWriMo is a great one (in time their website will also catch up, hopefully). For those not fancying to write 50k, like me, there’s also Camp NaNo where you can set your own word count.

So, why not just join Camp NaNo then? It seems to fit my need.

Well, it does in one way. It does not in another. Because as good of a concept as it is, there’s far less to do. Half of my motivation in joining NaNo comes from the Write Ins. Meeting people in person with minds filled with story ideas. Additionally, it’s a big event in writer land where everyone is talking about it, which means I’m constantly reminded of it and, thus, motivated.

During Camp… The community is not quite there for me. There’s barely any social events and often cabin members aren’t as active (I’m guilty of that as well). In sum, I’ve found myself still very much on my own during Camp. As a result, it doesn’t bring me the motivation that November does when the whole writing community is working towards their writing goals.


A New NaNo Approach

So, as of this year I’ve taken a different approach. In truth, I only figured this out about a week ago.

I’ll aim for at least 15k, which amounts to roughly 500 words a day. Right around my average.

I’ll still enjoy the Write Ins whenever I can make it and the general motivation as well as encourage others.

I’ll not force myself into a word count I’m not comfortable with

And most importantly. I vow to finish the story I started.

Fewer badges, no sparkly winner trophy, but far less frustration. And, what matters a lot to me: I write the stories I wish to write, rather than rush through them.

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