When I first tackled NaNoWriMo (oh, I remember so well, it was the midnight of the 1st November), I had a pretty solid plan: write 1667 words every day. I started right away and then went to bed: when I woke up in the morning, since it was a weekend, I wrote some more. By the end of the first day, I was extremely proud of myself: besides writing 2045 words, which would put me in a comfortable position as it was a number superior to my daily word count goal, I managed to write them all in English, and I had no trouble at all. However, I realized that that was going to be a day in ten, as from that moment on I’d be soaked in tests and oral presentations in college for which I had to study with a minimum of dedication. A few days later and I understood the so-called “conventional approach” wouldn’t work for too long: I just wouldn’t be able to write steadily, regularly.

That was when the second approach took place: the “laziness and make up excuses” approach. Luckily, that didn’t last for long, as I had days where I wrote absolutely nothing and then thought to myself “That’s ok, I can compensate”. Those days were spent studying, but not as much as you’d guess from someone who couldn’t even update a single word into the word count bar. There was a pretty interesting day, too: a day where I wrote about 300 words or so. I stared at that piece and remembered thinking I couldn’t write more on that day: I was officially uninspired. By that time, I was not so sure I’d finish NaNoWriMo, so I just wanted to see how many words would I be able to write in case I’d start writing on a daily bases. 300 words a day was not that bad, considering my daily average is far lower than that. Perhaps sticking with the 300 words would not be such a foolish idea: after all, it was a decent word count goal, one that I could easily attain every day, even when I would be too busy to write.

That thought didn’t stick with me for too long. I desperatly wanted to write NaNoWriMo, and suddenly something very special happened: I stopped thinking about I had just written and instead focused on writing. Just writing, and letting my characters take control. Well, they didn’t wait for a second invitation: they truly started arranging themselves a plot, as I went deeper and deeper into each one’s minds. No more wondering if that scene was truly important to the story, too, or if that scene was emotive enough: I just focused on getting that draft done, postponing my editing urges, and those two factors helped me immensely to come closer and closer to that daily word count I was supposed to be achieving.

I don’t know if I’ve ever managed to have the “correct” amount of words for every day (except when I won), but I do know that, from a very early stage, the calculator was my best friend. I was always checking it in order to see how many words did I have to write the next day. Planning those numbers was important to me.

Eventually, there was a time when I was so behind on my word count I had to take decisive measures. After a careful consideration, I saw I had to write 5000 words every day for a week, seven days that is. It was the final week and I was going for it with all I had: “frantic writing” is the appropriate denomination for this approach. However, Thursday wasn’t a good day for writing and I wrote… nothing. I felt a bit guilty, truth be told but, at the same time, I knew I had three more days to write intensively, so that didn’t bother me that much. After the greatly necessary calculator advice, the final plan was out: 6000, maybe 7000 words every day. I could not afford to rest for another day and the excitment of knowing that, if I sticked to the plan, I would win, made everything more simple. So I wrote, wrote and wrote. I also paid attention to my time: where on the first day I took 3, 4 hours to write 2000 words I was now writing the same amount in one and a half hour, one hour if I was already in the rhytmn of typing as fast as I could. And voilà, NaNoWriMo winner =)

What approach worked best for me? I’ll have to say the last days’ one. Because I did eventually follow a routine and managed to write regularly, but also the thoughtthat I had to write so much in such a short period made me write faster. In opposition, the first days were far more moderate: so moderate that I ended up getting lazy, thinking I could easily compensate on the next day.

As for the second approach, it is not recommended at all ;)

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