Day 1 of NaNoWriMo is in the bag (this should be going up on day 4 even though it was written on day 2). I got my words written, I managed to avoid exhausting myself, and then I got a decent night’s sleep. I am fully prepared to attempt repeating this. As always, we’ll have to see how it goes, but all this blog writing has helped with my focus and discipline, as has my withdrawal from most social media sites. I am set up for success, though I still need to put in the work.
I remember the first time I participated in NaNoWriMo, and the year after. It was my senior year of college and I absolutely bombed NaNoWriMo. Which is fair, given that I was working and studying and just pretty busy all the time, and that fifty thousand words seems like an unachievable goal. But the following spring, for a creative writing class, I wrote sixty thousand words in three months. It was the most I’d written in that short a time period. I felt so proud. The following November, when I was just working full time, I decided to try NaNoWriMo again and this time, I succeeded. Fifty thousand words in a single month. What an accomplishment!
Fast forward to 2017, and the start of my daily blogging. From November 1st 2017 to mid-December of 2018, I entered my most prolific state to date. I wrote almost as many words in those 13 months as I had in my entire writing life prior to that point, 100,000 of them during November of 2018 alone. Truly, I had tested my limits and done it all while managing a full-time job, a weekly D&D campaign (only one back then) and the entirety of a relationship. Losing my grandfather ended that streak, though. Cancer sucks.
Now, I’m trying to find a moderate, sustainable pace. Between my three separate D&D campaigns, blog updates, and NaNoWriMo, I’m probably averaging out to about 2,500-3000 words a day, not counting any writing I do for work (which varies widely enough that it is difficult to figure out an average). Which is probably the peak of my per-day sustained rate if I can make it last longer than November since I was only able to keep my 3,333.34 words-per-day average up for a month before exhaustion knocked me back down to 1,500 a day back in 2018.
Thanks to my pacing efforts and focus on healthy and sustainable progress, I can do all that writing in about three hours. One hour during the work day, spread out between breaks, lunch, and rests (small chunks of time that aren’t official breaks but are me diverting my attention for a bit to rest my mind which used to be social media or news browsing but are now writing time) and then two-ish hours in the evening, after work. Or after breakfast, on days I don’t work.
It’s interesting to look at these numbers and this time commitment and compare it to myself in the past. Since I like analytics and numbers and data aggregation just for fun, I’ve actually got a pretty good idea of how much time it took me to write two thousand words at just about any point in the past decade. In 2011, I was doing maybe 250 words an hour, on average. By 2013, I was doing about the same number for academic writing but about 500 an hour for creative writing.
In 2015, as I was doing my best to work on book projects regularly, I was still around 500 or 600 words an hour. In 2017, when I started daily blogging, I was nearing one thousand words an hour, but not quite there. By the end of 2018, I was at about 800 words an hour. Turns out, when you’re burned out and constantly exhausted, you get worse at stuff. Who knew.
By 2019, when I made relaxed writing my goal, I could do one thousand words an hour again. Now, I can do about 1,250-1,500 an hour if I’m not being interrupted. If I’m being interrupted and the hour of work is spread out over several hours, I’m at about 1,000 words an hour. If you get proper rest, are taking time to do relaxing or restorative things instead of just constantly depleting your mental and emotional energy, turns out you can be more efficient with your creativity time. What a novel concept.
Anyway, this was fun for me but I’m kind of at a loss for what to write next and my break is over so now I need to go ask my coworker what the fuck I’m looking at in this bug investigation I’m doing. What fun!