3 Things I Learned by Writing 50,000 Words in 30 Days

This month I participated in NaNoWriMo and, starting on the 1st, embarked on a journey to write 50,000 words in 30 days. As of this writing I only have 3,748 more words until I reach that goal. (By the time you read this I’ll have all 50,000!)

I am amazed at myself.

I participated in NaNo in 2014 but stopped after I wrote a little over 4,000 words. There are a few differences between 2014 and 2019, two of them being mindset and action. Because I have taken consistent action every day to meet the goal I set for myself, I am not only on the cusp of winning, I am finishing before the end of the month—almost a week early.

I have seen what I am capable of doing and there is no way I can unlearn the following lessons.

1. Time Management is Key
This month has taught me that I need to manage my time better.

Starting on Veterans Day, I set a goal to write, at minimum, 2,000 words a day Monday through Friday. When I sit down to write, it takes me a few minutes to get in the flow of writing but I have found that writing 2,000 words takes me anywhere from 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

I get home from work around 4:15 PM and I typically don’t get into bed until 10 PM. If you subtract 2 1/2 hours from that, I am left with 3 hours in my day to accomplish other things such as making and eating dinner, taking a shower, making my lunch for the next day, and watching YouTube videos. I didn’t actually start writing until about 7 PM which pushed my bedtime back by about an hour on most nights.

As I reflect on the past three weeks, I can see where my time goes which gives me the ability to manage my time better. Granted, some things this month have gone by the wayside (I see you clothes I need to fold) but I also found that I spend too much time after work not actually doing anything at all.

Every time I sit down to watch a TV show or online video before I write, I think of Marie Forleo’s philosophy of “create before you consume” and realize I need to start devoting time to writing before I watch someone else’s content.

2. Action Trumps Excuses
I am still amazed at how I have been able to write just shy of 50,000 words in three weeks. Between the 11th and 22nd I was able to write over 25,000 words simply by sitting down and writing.

I think about when I participated in NaNo the first time in 2014 and see that this year I have not only been more focused but I also did not let the excuse of not knowing what to write stop me from making progress. Yes, I did have to stare at the screen for a minute or two before I started writing (and even in the middle of writing) but I knew that I had a daily word goal and stared at my laptop until I met that goal.

How did I accomplish my goal even with self-doubt and an inner editor critiquing the crappier parts of my first draft? I showed up every day, wrote something, and turned off my inner editor.

3. Beliefs Drive Behavior
This lesson is by far the most impactful one (and also what inspired this post).

If you would have asked me at the start of the month if I could write 50,000 words in 24 days, I would have told you no. To accomplish 50,000 words in 30 days, the minimum daily word count goal is 1,667. I started the month on track and slightly ahead of where I needed to be but by the 5th I started to fall slightly behind.

I was able to bring the word count back up that weekend and was on track once again but I thought I could do better and so set the goal of 2,000 words every day during the week. Now today, I am ahead of where I thought I would be.

On Friday I realized that if I set a goal of writing 1,000 words a day, I would be able to write a minimum of 30,000 words a month; even more if I increase the word count on the weekends.

Going on this journey to win NaNo has taught me that I had a limiting belief of how much I could write in a month. Now that I know it is possible for me to write 50,000 words in a month when I commit to it, there is no way I can go back to thinking it not possible.

Will I set a goal for 50,000 words a month after this month? Probably not. But I also know there is no limit to what I can do when I set my mind to it.

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