NaNoWriMo Preview: Work ethic

Another question that people who are not writing yet tend to ask writers is something along the lines of, “How do you do it?” “Do what?” I usually ask, to which they respond, “You know, write.”

Well, my years of experience tell the that, in order to write, you have to, well, write.

It’s really as simple as that, after a fashion. Writers write, usually every day, and usually a large number of words.

The pace for NaNoWriMo, as an example, is 1,667 words per day. If you write exactly that many words every day for the 30 days of November, you will end up with 50,010 words on 30 November, 10 more than is necessary to “win”.

My goal has been, for a while, to write 2,000 dedicated words a day. What are dedicated words?

As it turns out, I write a lot in the form of emails, posts and replies on social networking sites, an a variety of other venues, mostly on the internet. That kind of writing is what I call opportunistic writing. It can end up totaling thousands of words a day, and most of that kind of writing amounts to very little in the long run.

On the other hand, dedicated words are those committed to a specific idea with the intent of developing that idea to a conclusion. I rarely count my opportunistic writing toward the dedicated total, which means I must budget my daily allotment of words carefully to be sure I have enough to dedicate.

Now, I know that some people write more words, and some people write less. I think there is a critical mass of dedicated words a writer needs to write every day to make the effort worth it, but that critical mass will vary from person to person and sometimes from day to day. While my goal is 2,000, I have, on occasion, written many more words than that.

However many words you might write, the key is that you must be writing them every day. Set a goal you know you can reach and start writing. That’s the only way it works.

DLH

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