I’m Not Formally Participating in NaNoWriMo This Year, But…

As I mentioned yesterday, I am not formally participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Don’t get me wrong, I think NaNoWriMo is a great event. It’s like a marathon for writers. More importantly, the spirit behind the event tries to illustrate through practice that it is possible to write every day when some discipline is applied. NaNoWriMo uses peer networks to help encourage that discipline.

But as many readers here know, I’m on something of a writing streak. I have now written for 467 consecutive days. That is the equivalent of about 15-1/2 consecutive NaNoWriMos. I think I have established the discipline I need to keep writing, and so NaNoWriMo doesn’t have the same pull for me as it used to. That said, while I’m not formally participating, I am using the spirit of the month to try, once again, to jump start the second draft of my novel, and more importantly, to work through a kind of slump that I’ve been in lately.

If you examine the last 6 months of my writing, a very obvious trend presents itself:

6 month writing trend

6 months ago, my 7-day moving average word count was about 1,100 words/day. This metric is a key measurement for me. My long term goal is to be able to gradually work up to a consistent 7-day moving average of 2,000 words/day. Most full time writers that I know aim for this amount of writing each day, and I’d like to be able to get there myself someday. Of course, I have a full time job, which makes it tricky, but I figure that if I approach the goal as the ancient Greek body building, Milo of Croton approached body-building1, I’ll get there through slow, incremental steps.

In the last 6 months, however, my 7-day moving average hasn’t increased, and it hasn’t stayed level. It has trended downward. Today, my 7-day moving average is 484 words/day–less than half of what it was 6 months ago.

A big reason for this is the time I have available in a given day. While I do write every day, my time has been more limited lately. Partly this is due to a big project at the day job. Partly this is due to family obligations. Looking at the time I spent writing each day over the last 3 months (which is as far back as my time data goes), you can see a similar trend:

3 months time spent writing

So while I am not formally participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I am using the event as a way to jump start my writing, to get back to where I was 6 months ago. I’m not trying to write 1,666 words/day, but I’d like to get back to about 40 minutes of writing time each day, which for me, results in about 1,000 words. I’ve struggled with the second draft of the novel I wrote last year, and I’m giving that another shot, and hoping that the combination of goals, and the eager NaNoWriMo spirit of the month will help get things going in the right direction.

As always, those interesting in following along in my progress can see my real-time writing stats over at open.jamierubin.net.

And to those participating in NaNoWriMo this year: good luck, and good writing!

  1. He allegedly lifted a newborn calf every day until eventually he was lifting a full-grown cow.