In the past, I’ve used the NaNo energy and camaraderie to write lots–I think last year I did about 30K in November of the project I was working on. But I’ve never done NaNo “for real” before. Truthfully, I’m not even doing that now–I had 28,000 words of the project I’m working on written before the month began. But I did decide that I wanted to NaNo to finish or hit 50K, whichever comes first. And so ever since the clock struck midnight on November 1, I’ve been working for my average of 1,667 words a day, with the 50K goal in mind. (I think finishing this project will take about that many words.)

How’s it going so far? I want to travel back in time and throw a parade for everyone who has finished NaNo in the past because WOW is this hard. When I am drafting, I typically average about 1,000 words a day–but I am not usually able to write every single day. Maybe I do 2,400 on a great Sunday and the following Monday through Wednesday I write nothing. Regardless of how often I write, the 7,000-8,000 words/week average seems to really work for me. At that pace, I’m writing fast enough that my first-draft antsiness isn’t a problem, but not so fast that I get burnt out.

Naively, I thought that upping my average to 1,667 would not be so bad. And while it isn’t terrible–I’m not crying into my pillow every night, and so far I’ve been keeping up with that pace–I’m learning a lot about what makes me a happy writer and a successful drafter, namely: This is too fast for me.* I need a little more time to think things through and to let myself recharge. Of course, there are benefits to the NaNo pace, too–when I hit the middle of my story, I didn’t have the option of muddling in it. I got creative and kept going. The choices I made in forging ahead might have created a hot plot mess, but at least I’m moving forward instead of stalling and starting to second-guess myself, which has been a problem for me in the past.

Because I’m a perfectionist type who loves goals and deadlines, I’m going to keep trying for the 50K goal (also because I want to take December off from writing to read and do holiday things). Even if I don’t make it–and some upcoming travel might derail my plans a bit–I’m proud of how much I’ve already done, and happy with what the NaNo experience is teaching me about my sweet-spot for a writing pace as well showing me how I can use goal-setting to boost creativity.

If you’re doing NaNo, how’s it going? If you’ve done it in the past, how was your experience?

*Duh, right?