NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month to those not in the know, is right around the corner. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Back when I was younger, and maybe even a bit now, I saw NaNoWriMo as The Cool Thing To Do. I imagined that doing the event would prove me a Proper Writer. In hindsight, those are not very good motivations to do the event. And, when it really comes down to it, is 50,000 words in a month a realistic goal for everybody? How do you determine what are realistic writing goals for you?
The short answer on whether NaNoWriMo is for everyone is no. While NaNoWriMo can be a fantastic tool for those who are in a stage of writing that requires producing a lot of text, not everybody is going to benefit from participating. There’s likely many other things you need to do, such as taking care of your social life, your home, and much more. And that’s completely fine, you don’t ever have to do NaNoWriMo if it doesn’t suit you, or you just don’t want to. For some people the stress of a large workload and a tight deadline works, as they are able to experience what can be called “positive stress”. Positive stress is a force that propels you forward in your endeavours. As someone who has been experiencing chronic stress (the negative kind) for years, doing NaNoWrimo as is wouldn't probably even be entirely healthy for me. That’s why I don’t do it as is.
This is the second year I participate in what I rather affectionately call “mininano”. I do this with a group of writers. We each set our own goals, with most of us heading for 10,000 words. I’ve yet to lock down my goal, but I suspect mine will be to write a minimum of one page or so from Monday to Friday. I’m not getting paid to write, and I’ve many other responsibilities, so making NaNoWriMo more about writing consistently rather than putting out a large amount of text is much better for me. And as a side note, one of the important aspects of NaNoWriMo is support from fellow writers, so I do encourage you to reach out for that help.
This all brings us back to the title of this blog post: realistic writing goals. I wish I could give you a one size fits all on what is a realistic amount of text to write in, say, a day. But that’s not how it works. Being able to gauge how much writing is realistic for you comes through writing consistently for a long time. If there’s a shortcut to it, I’ve yet to hear of it. Writing consistently will allow you to start accurately estimating how much text you can output in what sort of amount of time. You will also get an idea of how your quality of writing varies. Writing anything longer than a few pages will always be a marathon rather than a sprint, if you want to take care of the rest of your life, that is. Especially if you want to write professionally, I feel that it is good to learn to write in a sustainable fashion, and realistic goals are definitely a part of that. So, I bid you a balanced month of November whether you participate in NaNoWriMo or not.