I started the 90 Day Novel Challenge a few months ago, and I paired it with Camp NaNo.
I wanted to review each step and finish it up with some great results. I wanted to say, “I have a novel, now. Huzzah!”
But, as my mother tells me, we don’t always get what we want. And I didn’t get what I was looking for out of this, but I did learn about my writing process.
I am not a fast writer. I am not a word count production artist. I cannot write a decent novel in 90 days. And I definitely cannot do it in 30.
And that is okay. I like to let ideas simmer. I like to sit at my computer thinking about the great moments I’m about to create, not my word count goal.
Are word count goals important? Absolutely. Without them, I would not write nearly as much per day. My daily word count goal is 2,000 during the school year and 4,000 during the summer. With two jobs, a full class schedule, a church community that I’m proud to get involved with, and an apartment to take care of, writing 2,000 words a day is just enough of a challenge to get me motivated.
That said, I don’t think a high word count should be the goal. Maybe in lit class when you have a 10 page paper due and you’re trying to stretch every single sentence (I don’t recommend that, by the way!). Maybe then it matters. Or if you are writing a short story that has to be between x words and x words in order to submit it for publication to the magazine you have in mind. It matters then.
But, for me, it is just a number that tells me whether or not I’ve “clocked in” for the day. I’m more concerned with sitting down to write and making something awesome happen or describing something in a way I had never done before.
So, the 90 Day Novel Challenge was not a success for me in that I have no novel to show for it. But, my goal in any challenge is to learn. So, even with my failure, I have learned much more about myself as a writer than I expected to. I learned that I am not the kind of writer that can impose deadlines on my novels. I average a novel a year. To be fair, I usually do the writing in about ten months. And I write long novels. That is okay with me. It fits my lifestyle and my writing process.
So, if I pass up NaNoWrimo every now and then, I’m not being lazy. I’m being true to my writing. And if you take it on every year with success, then I’m happy for you. I’m not going to draw a line between us by saying that my slower pace is the right and true and only way. It isn’t. The only way to write is the way that works.
What works for you? Are you a NaNo champion or do you favor the slow and steady way?