This One’s For You, Prolific Writers: NaNoWriMo 2019 Report #2

I see you, prolific writer. I see you there, hiding your word count, speaking your word war totals in hushed tones, because you don’t want to make other writers who go more slowly feel bad. I see you dismissing your achievements, in part because you’re tired of the gaping looks people give you when you mention them, and in part because when they ask “how do you write so fast!?” you actually have to admit that you don’t know.

I’ve walked with you all these times. All those class assignments, when other students asked “How long does it have to be?” and you asked “How long can it be?” because you knew that, for you, the hard part wasn’t getting enough words, it was cutting down your work to fit in the upper limits provided.

I feel you. I know you. I see you.

And honestly, I don’t know why the words flow better for you. I have a literal Ph.D. in how writing happens, I’ve taught writing for a decade, but I don’t know. I just know I’m in the same boat.

In 2006, my second year of National Novel Writing Month, I wrote 100,000 words. It was… amazing. My sister and I just kept one-upping each other and we hit 50k on day 15 and just kept going. To this day, though, I’m a little embarrassed by it sometimes. I worry about how it might make people who struggle to get to 50k feel. I usually quickly follow the story with one of a friend’s triumph in just barely crossing the 50k line, or one of my other years where I was not as prolific (like 2015, where I just barely made it and spent most of the month about 10k behind).

But sometimes you feel invisible when everyone knows that you are going to be ok. When there’s no question of whether you’re going to succeed in a goal, people show less interest in your goal and, consequently, in you. So I just want to say this: I see you and I celebrate you.


Report by the numbers

  • Days of NaNoWriMo 2019: 17
  • Wordcount (at the time of writing, which is Sunday afternoon): 19,988
  • 10 Minute Word Wars Over 500 Words: 3, I think. Not my best year.
  • Chapters: 9
  • Write-ins attended: 2
  • Days written: 16
  • Character count: I don’t even know anymore
  • Characters killed off: Well the cat died, but I’m not letting him STAY dead

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