Nearing the End of NaNoWriMo

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According to the official National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) counter, I’m 17,693 words behind today. If I wanted to write 50,000 words to win NaNoWriMo, I need to write 24,351 words over the next four days, which is 6,088 words per day.

The good news is, my own personal goal for NaNoWriMo is writing 1,000 words per day: 30,000 total. I am about 4,400 words away from that goal. Reachable!

This has been a much different experience than my previous attempt four years ago to participate in NaNoWriMo. That year, I only made it to 1,500 words. I let many other activities get in the way.

This year, I wanted to develop a better writing habit.

One of the most helpful hints I found for this writing challenge was to keep an Excel sheet to record my daily word counts. What I found is that I tend to write big chunks of manuscript in spurts with droughts in between; many days, the “Words Written” column read “0.”

The NaNoWriMo website also provides visuals. Here is how all those 0’s looked in “Daily Word Count” (horizontal axis shows the date, vertical axis shows the number of words written per day):

Screenshot_2019-11-26 NaNoWriMo Daily Word Count

The line is much less even than my goal of 1,000 words per day should be.

But that visual does help me say, “Here is what I want to fix. I want to improve in writing more often.”

Writing a new blog post just three days after my previous one was published is a step in the right direction.

Keeping my mind on a goal like this one distracts me from all the medical strife.

Sometimes, I thought, I already have two big projects going on, why am I doing this?

The answer came the day before NaNoWriMo started. As part of my work filming the activities of local Career and Technical Education classes, I spent Halloween at the elementary school where I attended kindergarten through second grade. Colorful costumes filled the hallways as part of the school’s Parade of Characters. Harry Potter, the Joker, Chewbacca, numerous princesses, and sharks proudly paraded past my camera. Shortly after the festivities, my kindergarten teacher stopped, shocked to see me, and gave me a big hug. She was retired but returns to the school each week to volunteer.

It was a day filled with Story and Memory and brilliant illustrations of how Essential both are to our Being.

Story is Important.

Writing down our stories is Important.

And we can only do that through developing a habit of writing.

My sporadic bursts of 2,000-6,000 words in one day aren’t sustainable. I have experiences I need to write down. Remembering these experiences helps me through the Now, through the medical tests that have been normal, normal, normal, with nothing yet saying, This is why you’re going through what you’re going through.

So I needed to participate in NaNoWriMo. And though chances are good I’m not going to “win” at 50,000 words, I can at least say I have more words than I did at the beginning of the month, and I have tools I can use, like an Excel sheet, to cultivate a better writing habit.

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