Solution Saturday: I Can’t Write 50,000 Words in One Month


Oh, yes you can.

Or you can at least try.

Camp NaNoWriMo is merely days away now (!), and you could be in one of multiple places: signed up but scared out of your mind (understandable), not signed up because you’re not interested or legitimately can’t give up other lifestyle commitments, like breathing (also understandable) or our least favorite: not signed up because you’re not sure you’re going to be able to write enough words in such a short amount of time.

Stop right there. We need to have a chat.

As we’ve discussed previously, there are three reasons writers fail to develop and refine their skills. One of those reasons is time. Associated with this: being too busy, treating writing as a hobby (which some do, and there’s nothing wrong with that, please, no flailing tentacles in the comments) and just not knowing how writing fits into your long list of life-long ambitions.

Participating in a WriMo is voluntary and often, let’s be honest, a terrible idea. Until you get started. It’s the kind of stress we need to thrive—a combination of terror and excitement particularly difficult to describe. But if you give up before you’ve even signed up—you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Not sure you can handle it? Here are a few solutions that might motivate you to change your mind.

Solution 1: Set a reasonable word count goal—for you

Unlike National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short), which takes place in November, Camp NaNoWriMo—April and July—does not have an automatic 50K word count goal you have to reach in order to win. The system lets you set your own word count, so if you really think you’ll struggle making 50,000, you’re allowed to shoot lower.

A lot of your cabin mates might keep their word count at 50,000—or they might even set a higher goal. Cheer them on—but don’t let them intimidate you. If 10,000 words is all you think you’ll be able to handle this July, that’s still a huge accomplishment. And here’s the beauty of setting a lower word count: if you hit it before July ends, no one’s going to stop you from writing more!

Solution 2: Accept that you might not be able to write every day 

Here at Novelty Revisions, we’re all for the concept of trying to write a little every day, even if it’s not your best work. The truth is, this philosophy doesn’t always apply quite as well during WriMo months. You can try to write a little every day—1,667 daily words on the 50K track—and if that’s the strategy that works best for you, and you’re not too concerned about quality (or your own sanity), get those fingers ready and go for it.

If you’ve found that writing every day doesn’t work as well for you, use this next month as a trial run for yourself. What about writing every other day, or select days of the week only, such as weekends? The important thing to note here is, it’s not the end of the world if you can’t update your word count every day. That chart is there to help motivate you to keep going. If it flatlines a few times (too morbid?), just breathe. It’s going to be okay.

Solution 3: Turn “have to” into “want to,” “can’t” into “can try”

Writing is a lifestyle, and just like taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle involves positive thinking and positive self-talk along with diet and exercise (sorry), reaching toward word count and similar goals takes more effort than coaxing your brain into squeezing out its best ideas.

No one is making you do this. So getting into the habit of “have to” writing, when you really think about it, doesn’t even make that much sense. Take that have to and make it a want to. You want to write these words. You want to get closer to finishing this book. The same goes for the infamous “can’t” attitude. It’s in the title of this post, for goodness sake. You CAN. It might take lowering your set point (SORRY) and combating all the voices inside you screaming that it’s not possible, but honestly, if you can’t convince yourself it is in fact possible, no one can.

You don’t have to do this. But if you want to, don’t stress if you can’t reach 50K. And if you do shoot for that count and don’t end up making it—you tried. Never forget that trying and falling short is so much more fulfilling than giving up before you even start reaching. 

Can’t wait until Wednesday? Get ready to embark on your word-writing journey by checking out our summer 2015 “packing” checklist.

Do you have a “writer problem” that you can’t seem to find a solution to? Leave a comment or tweet @MegDowell with the hashtag #NRSaturdaySolutions and we might help you solve your problem in next week’s post!

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.