There is less than a week before we emerge, blinking, into sparkling December. While a handful of you have already finished your novel and are now winding the month down, adding finishing touches and picking out the sweater you’ll wear in your author photo, the rest of us are scrambling, writing down to the wire, still not sure if we’re going to be able to make it.
Believe it or not, you CAN still hit 50,000 words at this point, even if you only started writing the minute you finish reading this. The average writer can write 500 words in a 15 minute timed writing sprint. That means it would only take 100 sprints or 25 hours total to write the whole 50,000 words, less than that if you type faster. You can absolutely still do this.
But maybe you don’t believe me.
Let me tell you something, this month has not gone as planned for me at all. Events both personal and professional threw me for a loop and I haven’t even come close to finishing what I’d hoped to accomplish. And though we still have five days left in November, the December holidays are already muscling in, their duties eating away what little writing time I had to begin with. It’s really tempting to say, whatever, let’s stop here and call it good enough.
But I’m not doing that and neither should you. We may not be able to hit our goals exactly but we’ve still got five days to give it our best try and get as close as we can. I’m still writing because I know that anything I get done at this point is better than nothing. And because, even if it’s not exactly what I set out to write, I’m still darn proud of everything I’ve gotten down this month.
Can I let you in on a little secret? NaNoWriMo gets everyone talking about word counts and daily writing badges and all that pomp but the truth is that absolutely none of that matters. They talk about this challenge in terms of games and gimmicks like that to distract you from the fact that all this month is really about is giving yourself a goal, working toward that goal and teaching yourself what it’s like to build a regular writing habit. That’s it.
The last few days of NaNoWriMo really set the tone for what kind of writer you’ll be once this month ends. Will you keep writing even when there are no prizes or badges, no community cheering you on, no one but you and your words? Will you keep plugging away at your writing goals, even when it seems out of reach, because you know the only way you’ll ever get there is bit by bit? Will you keep writing as often as you can because that’s what writers do, they write?
Today is the first day of the rest of your writing life. Forget about the NaNo numbers. Focus on your personal writing goal. Write what you set out to write. See it through.
Become the kind of writer you want to be by keeping steadily at it until the very end and beyond.
PS: If you’re super close to winning but just need a little extra time, I personally do not consider it cheating if you change your timezone to Pacific Time to give yourself a few extra hours of writing on the final day, just sayin’.