In Part 1 of this series, I explain the goal of writing 50,000 words of a new novel during November (National Novel Writing Month). A major challenge of NaNoWriMo is the amount of time it takes to get down 50K words in some semblance of a novel. Yes, it need be only a lousy first draft but it should be complete enough to tell most of the story.
Professional writers might spend eight hours a day, six days a week, producing 1923 words each of twenty-six days. (I value Sundays as a day of rest.) That’s only a touch over 240 words each of eight hours. Taking Thanksgiving off for family, a professional writer still needs only 250 words an hour or 2000 in eight hours times twenty-five days. That doesn’t sound like much with adequate preparation beforehand.
Most NaNoWriMo participants, however, work elsewhere to make a living. Assume nine hours to commute to the job, perform it, and return; more time with the family; still more to sleep and meet other needs. A writer might have only five hours a day to give to writing. Five hours times twenty-five days equals 125 hours to pound out 50K words. That’s four hundred words per hour. That seems like quite a challenge.
OK, let’s add another three hours each of eight weekend days (Saturday and Sunday). Twenty-four hours plus the 125 above and add an extra hour sometime to round up to 150 hours spent writing. That comes to 333.3 words per hour. Still sounds like a lot. As I said, it’s a major challenge.
For myself, I have arranged to take vacation from my factory job during the first and second full weeks of November. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of those weeks will give me six full days for writing. A final vacation day the next Wednesday, followed by Thanksgiving weekend, will give me another three or four full days. In all, I’ve scheduled for myself almost 70 three-hour work sessions over the course of the month. My calculations work out to almost 840 words needed per session or 280 words per hour.
I’ll be spending a lot of time in October, preparing my outline and planning each scene. Once I – finally! – start the actual writing, I expect the words will flow quickly at first. Later in the month, I suppose I’ll have to dig deep for material as the storehouse gets low. Again, that’s part of the challenge.
Once I succeed, though, what a feeling of accomplishment! More than receiving a certificate of Winner, I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing another novel is out of my head and on paper or computer file.
How would you schedule writing time in your life? What would you set aside during the month of November in order to meet the 50K-word goal?