Yesterday, Laura LaRocca, fellow NaNoWriMo participant and writing buddy, wrote on Facebook, “On some days, success is not measured by word count.” That’s where I am at the end of the second week of NaNo. I have written over 19,000 words, but am many short of today’s NaNo word count goal. But the word count I have is so many more than I had two weeks ago, and 6,000 more than I wrote in July when I conscientiously wrote every day for a month. I have been successful in other ways, too. The pile of test papers that I have to mark is diminishing, I worked outside in glorious warm sunshine yesterday, my kitchen is clean, and I watched a mushy movie with my husband last evening while my son wrote up a NaNoWriMo storm and had a blast doing it.
This is a day to be proud of my accomplishments—and to also keep writing and recommit to the next 2 weeks. If I can write every day for a month, just think where I can be if I write every day for the rest of my life.
So, how do I keep the incentive going? Why did I write every day in July and then stop?
In July, I had a group of writerly friends who agreed to a challenge for the month. We each chose our own particular daily writing goal. When we had completed our goal for the day, we sent an email to the rest of the group with the word “done” in the subject line. NaNo makes you accountable to post your progress and lets you see what your writing buddies are doing every day; our “done” challenge worked in a similar way. It was important for us to get our “done” email send by the end of the day, some scrambling to send their emails just before midnight in order to make the deadline.
The idea of “done” came from an article that I read in a writers’ magazine in which an author said she belonged to a writing group who did this. I proposed it as a challenge to our group and everyone agreed it was a great success. And nearly everyone lost the daily writing habit when the month was over.
I’ve already talked to a couple of writer friends about keeping up the NaNo habit after November with our own “done” project and I believe we’ll make it work. We’re a lot of other things, too: moms, wives, knitters, cooks, teachers, TV and nature watchers. But when the writer piece of our personal puzzles is missing, the world just isn’t right. Success for us is sitting at the keyboard every day and fitting that writer piece of the puzzle into our lives. It will be good to be “done.”