“Shoot for the moon. If you miss, at least you’ll land among the stars.” – Norman Vincent Peale
November’s now over, and with it, both “NaNoWriMo” (ahem – “National November Writer’s Month”) and its blogging equivalent, National November Blogging Month.
I laid out my personal writing goal here on November 1. Now that the month’s over, this is a review of the results.
The objective of NaNoWriMo is simple – produce a first draft of a novel in a month – 50,000 new words in 30 days.
For the math-challenged, that works out to about 1,667 words (or 7 typed, double-spaced pages) a day.
Started in 1999 with just 21 participants, it’s now grown into a popular movement in the digital age, where more than 200,000 novel aspirants worldwide log in, track their word counts, connect with other writers, share their writing trials and successes, and discover all manner of writing prompts for when they’re stuck.
It’s group therapy and accountability at its finest.
But most importantly, it’s about challenging yourself and proving you have the discipline to follow through with a new daily practice for a full month.
That’s the true lesson – be it writing, jogging, yoga or any other hobby – the challenge is to see what you could do in 30 consecutive days of consistent practice.
NaBloPoMo (“National Blog Posting Month”) arose as a copycat – a wannabe variant. There, the goal is to publish 30 blog posts in 30 days.
I find that challenge both easier and harder.
Easier, because a 400-1,200-word blog post daily seems far easier to me than inventing new characters, settings, dialogue – all woven into a plot that sings.
Harder, because there’s a world of difference between writing a first draft, and crafting something publishable – even if the target outlet is a small personal blog.
My goal for November wasn’t 30 blog posts in 30 days.
The goal was daily writing practice, 750-800 words, that would ultimately result in 15 published blog posts. Writing one day; revising and publishing the next.
By month’s end I wanted to have published 12 new posts to my own site, and 4 additional guest posts to external sites.
My goal number of words was different from the published number. 800 words x 30 days: 24,000 words.
But the publishable goal was smaller 16 posts x ~600 words each: 9,600 words total. Let’s round up to a goal of 10,000 words that month.
How’d I do?
- Published Posts: 13
- Additional Drafts Started: 8
- Total Words: 13,370
- Total Published Words: 11,820
Was I successful?
I aimed for 16 posts and only hit 13.
Further, I specifically wanted to publish a guest post to a more established blog each week, ending the month with four rather than zero.
But I’m proud of the 13 new posts I did publish to this site, a monthly record for me.
Further, I started more than half a dozen additional working drafts that I can revise and shape into future posts.
While I fell far short of the total desired word count of 24,000, I ultimately bested my published word count goal by nearly 20 percent.
Still, I’m happy with the results.
It’s obvious, but there’s little downside to setting your goals (and standards) high.
They still should be achievable – not so far out of the realm of possibility that you simply give up if you fail.
But only by setting your high goals can you see what’s truly possible.
Also, the 13 new blog posts are merely a byproduct of the real result – my new discipline of daily writing practice.
Looking back on November 2016, the true outcome for me isn’t the finished work product, but the writing process itself.
I now write daily, and because of this, inspiration comes from a variety of new and unexpected sources.
30 days of practice was simply the foundation, and hopefully I’ll continue this new habit long into the future.
To me, that’s true success.