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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Must a Writer Write Every Day…Even in November? A Guest Post by Tamara Girardi for #NaNoWriMo

As many of you know, I'm a huge advocate for NaNoWriMo and fast drafting. But I believe there are many personality types and many different writing processes for making the fast drafting process work for each person. I'm always thrilled to share a different outlook from a guest author on the topic, and so today, I give you over to Tamara Girardi, who gives her thoughts on whether or not you need to write every day!

Must a Writer Write Every DayEven in November?
By Tamara Girardi

Writers write every day.

You know the saying. If you aspire to write great stories, youve probably heard this a time or two. The words might ignite the flame of insecurity inside of you that challenges whether you really are a writer. What if you dont write every day? Will you make it in this business? Will your work ever see print?

A more appropriate saying might be: Writers write every day in the month of November. If that saying speaks to you, you might be a Wrimo. Or a Nano. Or a Wrimer, however you look at it.

Still, November can become like any other month. You start off writing strong, but by November 5 or 8 or 12, youve fallen out of the writers write every day bubble.

If thats happened to you, thats okay. Theres still time!
NaNoWriMo encourages every participant to write 1,667 words per day to reach an ultimate goal of a novel of 50,000 words in a month. Dont get me wrong, 50,000 words in one month is excellent, but according to, literary and commercial womens fiction tends to run 80K-100K.  Mysteries, thrillers, suspense, and fantasy projects target 90K-100K. Science fiction novels might take two NaNoWriMos to complete.

Middle grade, young adult, and romance novels could potentially be complete at 50,000 words, so if youre writing one of those, excellent for you! The takeaway here is although NaNoWriMo is fabulous, and there are many undeniable benefits for participants, the plan you created prior to November 1 might be fuzzy at the moment.

If that describes you, no worries! Just adjust your plan.

Set a challenge for yourself. If youve lost a few days in the month, try to double your word count on the remaining days to reach the 50,000 words. If 50K is nowhere near attainable, then adjust your goal to 40K or 25K.

A goal is a goal, and NaNoWriMo is the time to set goals and strive for them. In November, you have a built-in community lively over Twitter, Facebook, NaNoWriMos web site, and in many face-to-face write-ins around the world.

Let me reiteratearound the world!

Do you really believe every NaNoWriMo participant has written every day this month? Full disclosure: I have not. I started strong, writing roughly 7,000 words in the first weekend, but then the work week hit, and its been busy ever since. I teach college English courses, and my roughly 60 composition students are submitting 15-page persuasive essays for grading. My literature students recently completed an exam that needs grading and are preparing for a literary analysis essay.

When my mental energy is not being spent on their work, Im playing with my three-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter. Then, bedtime comes, and Im, well, ready for bed.

And Im not the only Wrimo with a busy work schedule.

So, as my month continues, Im being forced to re-evaluate. Can I still reach 50K by November 30? Im not sure. If I have a few days like I had the first weekend, I could get back to my target without too much trouble. The twenty-minute sprints I love could get me there, but the truth is, any amount of words sitting in my document November 30 signifies an achievement.

They are words I didnt have October 31. They are words I will add to December 1 (or the next writing day I get did I mention I dont write every day?).

I love NaNoWriMo and have no intention of discouraging participants from meeting the 50K in 30 days goal. On the contrary, I hope that any Wrimos reading this feel empowered to change their plans if those plans arent working. Dont stop participating because 50K is suddenly unattainable for you.

Log into the NaNoWriMo web site. Find a friend tweeting under the #nanowrimo tag on Twitter, or better yet, find me! I will cheer you on!

You dont have to write every day to be a writer, whether its November or any time. You need only believe you can write and make progress at it. Whatever shape that progress takes, celebrate it.

And good luck!

An English Instructor for Harrisburg Area Community Colleges Virtual Learning program, Tamara Girardi holds a PhD in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Letters in Creative Writing from the University of St. Andrews. Her YA fantasy DREAMSEER won the 2013 PennWriters Novel Beginnings Contest and is on submission with agents. Tamara is a member of Backspace, Sisters in Crime, and PennWriters. Follow her (and challenge her to a writing sprint!) on Twitter @TamaraGirardi.

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