Brought to you by the 2010 Nanowrimo Blog Chain!
Everything that follows is based on my experience. Your mileage may vary.
I work full-time, so I knew Nano was going to be a challenge this year. The year that I won, I was unemployed, and while 'unemployed' certainly doesn't mean 'not busy', it generally does mean 'slightly more control over how you spend your time'. I knew this year would be tough, so I cheated a little. I had some annual leave to spare, so I booked 1st November off work at the tail end of a holiday.
The usual daily target for Nanowrimo is 1,667 words. I'm aiming for 75k and a completed novel this year, so my daily target is 2,500. Not a huge amount more, really, but enough to be a bit scary! And as I'm Co-ML for my region, I don't want to crash and burn in Week One, because then how can I help to encourage my fellow Wrimos?
So I decided to use Day One to get as far ahead of target as I could. Not everyone can take a day off for 1st November (and this year is especially difficult for everyone because Nano starts on a Monday, so it will be Day 6 before most full-time workers and students get a day to themselves), but I recommend getting ahead of target as soon as you can. If you're reading this on Day Two and worried that you're behind, just keep going! Try to meet your daily target or get as close as you can. But as soon as you have some extra time, whether on a quiet evening or a Saturday or by hiding in the garden shed where no one can find you, try to pull ahead. It feels so much better knowing that you can have a bad day, or a busy day, and not fall behind.
But why does falling behind matter? The goal is to verify your 50k between November 25th and 30th. That's aaaages away. Aaaaages.
Falling behind doesn't matter, once you know you can make it up. But it can be demoralising, sitting down on Saturday and knowing you have to write half of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before you even start Saturday's target. And then you're just breaking even. . . so if you can't pull ahead early, try to keep up until you can. The less pressure you have to handle, the better.
Which brings me to another issue - the Nano forums.
The forums may be the best thing about Nano. Friendly, fun and full of utterly random information (the Reference Desk forum is brilliant), they can be a terrible time-waster so people with willpower like mine may want to unplug the internet.
However, there is a side effect of the forums that you have to be able to overlook - comparing word counts. As you browse, you may notice some people with absurdly high word counts. A few people hit 50k yesterday (yes, really, I am NOT making this up).
It's really important not to let this affect you. Don't even bother falling into the trap of thinking 'If they wrote 50k in one day, it must be total rubbish.' Maybe it is, but maybe not. It isn't important. You're on your own journey and facing your own challenge.
My word count for yesterday looks fairly impressive. But bear in mind that I achieved that by taking a day off work and writing from 11.30 to 6, with a short lunch break, and that my particular story has quite a bit of world-building going on at the start. Also, my lunch break was spent researching (luckily my research is fun). If you have kids to look after, or college assignments to do, or any other commitments, your word count is going to be different. And all that matters is whether you are meeting your goals.
And if you're not? There's plenty of time. Change your strategy. Enjoy it.
Forget where other people are. Focus on where you are. For some people, writing 50,000 words in a month is genuinely not a challenge. Some of them are even churning out works of genius faster than I can write grocery lists. But they're not me, and apart from being happy for them, they don't matter.
Chins up for Day Two!