So, as of Nov 19th (granted ten minutes to midnight, but still), I hit fifty thousand words for NaNoWriMo.  While I’m proud of that, this isn’t gloating.  That’s the earliest I’ve ever completed NaNo, and it made me realize some things about myself and my writing.

I averaged something like 2300 words a day.  As it stands, of course, the story is very rough.  I haven’t looked back in depth, but I know several places at the very least that need some serious polishing.  But the central story, and at least a few of the characters, I think are good.  It’s 51,000 words and change in 20 days.

Since I have a job, and a life, I don’t think I could pull that off on a regular basis, and I’m not sure I’d want to try.  But, if I’m being really honest with myself, it does mean I could write more.  That’s one of the reasons I encourage everyone who’s even remotely interested in writing to give NaNo a shot.

It’s not just that it gives you a story to rework and build on later, although it does.  It also really calls to mind discipline, and your process.  The story to one side, it’s a learning experience.  If you count the Camp NaNo I did one summer, this is my seventh completion for seven attempts.

What this has shown me is that I have the discipline I need to keep pushing as a writer.  I’m at the stage now where I have a very few sales, and a lot of rejections.  That right there takes a lot to push through.  But the rejections are shifting.  I’m not getting the blank ones.  I’m getting comments, and they are encouraging.  While that’s not a lot of a reward for the work, it’s something.

As I write this, I have one novel out, and it was my second NaNo project.  I have one that’s been under consideration for over two months with a publisher, and it was my Camp NaNo piece.  One of my favorite books in recent years was The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern, and it, too, started as a NaNo story.

So I encourage everyone to give this a shot.  And then, whether you finish or not, think about what happened.  How’d you do?  What did you learn?  I have several friends who have tried this several times.  While they are talented writers, they consistently don’t make it.  From what I’ve learned from actual professionals, part of achieving success in this field is being able to hit, or at least come close to, deadlines.

If you’ve tried NaNo, good for you for trying.  If you never have, you really should at least once.  And after the chaos/panic/insanity that is the race for 50,000, take some time to reflect on what you learned.  It won’t hurt your writing, and you might well learn something useful.

And, if you’ve been reading all this and don’t know what NaNo or NaNoWriMo is, go to .  It’s something every writer should at least be aware of in my humble opinion.

About the author

Wayland Smith WAYLAND SMITH is the pen name for a native Texan who has lived in Massachusetts, New York, Washington DC, and presently makes his home in Virginia. His rather unlikely list of jobs includes private investigator, comic book shop owner, ring crew for a circus (then he ran away from the circus and joined home), deputy sheriff, and freelance stagehand. Wayland is a four time participant in, and survivor of, NaNoWriMo, having made the 50,000 word goal each time. A black belt in shao lin kung fu, he is also a fan of comic books, reading, writing, and various computer games (I”ll shut Civ down in one more turn. Really). He lives with a beautiful woman who was crazy enough to marry him, and a goofy dog with a fondness for peanut butter and white wine.