The power of motivation

For the past 12 days I have been actively participating in National Novel Writing Month (along with some 500,000 of my fellow writers). NaNoWriMo, as it is known, challenges people to write 50,000 words to a novel in 30 days.  I’d guess the majority of people who start the process may not successfully cross the 50k finish line, and that’s okay. At least they tried.  But, impressively, many people make the attempt year after year. They keep on plugging along.  As I quoted Ray Bradbury in yesterday’s post, “You fail only if you stop writing.”  That’s not only true for National Novel Writing Month, but it is true EVERY month.  In fact, it’s a good lesson for life in general:  You only fail if you stop writing trying.

What I noticed as I was looking at other WriMo participants’ stats is that those writers who won usually stopped right around 50,000 words. They crossed the finish line, yes, and then promptly stopped writing their books.  Their word counts rarely extended much beyond the 50,000 word requirement.

There are exceptions, of course. One WriMo wrote over 105,000 words in 30 days, but in general, the WriMos I researched who “won” did so by just squeaking past the finish line.

I’m probably going to “squeak” past the finish line, too.  Once I reach 50,000 words, I’ll probably stop.

But should I?  

Should any of the WriMo’s stop at 50,000 words? Should we stop writing on November 30th?  Perhaps National Writing Month is only about cranking out 50,000 words in 30 days; but writing is about something more than that —  it is about establishing a writing routine that is driven by a self-imposed goal (50,000 words) and a self-imposed deadline (November 30).  These goals and milestones may not SEEM self-imposed in November, since NaNoWriMo is “throwing” this worldwide writing party, but the truth is, it IS self-imposed.  There’s no one FORCING you to write 50,000 words in 30 days during NaNoWriMo.  Those of us who are doing it, are doing it for ourselves. To see if we can.

What’s stopping us from doing the same thing in December? And in January? And February?

After all, that’s what a writer would do.  As Richard Bach once said, “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”  Let’s all keep writing, even after NaNoWriMo 2014 comes to a close…


Here are my NaNoWriMo stats for November 11, 2014:

Average Per Day 1776
Words Written Today 2007
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 19545
Words Remaining 30,455
Current Day 11
Days Remaining 20
At this rate, you’ll finish Nov 29
Words/Day to finish on time 1,523