Should You Speed Through a Project?

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NanoWrimo. The idea behind the month is to bring attention to novel writing. But it has also become a month-long challenge to finish a 50,000 word draft of a novel in 30 days.

There’s a website at where you can enter the details of your novel and track how many words you write a day. The goal is to write an average of 1,667 words a day to reach the end of a first draft when the month is over. There are also forums, inspirational books, t-shirts, and coffee mugs to motivate to along the way.

I’ve given this a shot several times, each time fizzling out toward the beginning of the month. I have several of the t-shirts, the coffee mugs, the inspirational book, and even the journal. Surprisingly enough, those things can only do so much to get you to sit in a chair and get the writing done.

I’m mostly the victim of over-planning, procrastination, and that big bugaboo– fear. I can talk all I want about how that first draft is expected to be bad and need a lot of rewriting, I still have a hard time getting past the internal editor that says my words aren’t worth the page. But, I still try.

Why do I put out the effort every year (at least half-heartedly) during one of the busiest months of the year? Partly because I’m a competitive person and I want to prove to myself that I can reach that goal. But part of me truly believes that somewhere inside me is a really good mystery! Floating in my mind is a fully formed book that I just have to get past that block in my head and through to my fingers and onto the screen. Even if it doesn’t come out the way I picture it in my head. Even if it starts out terrible. Everyone has to start somewhere and its time for me to put up or shut up.

So far this month I’ve written about 3,000 words. A little behind pace, but better that I’ve done before. I’m trying to work a little every night and longer on Fridays which are my days off. I’m going to find niches of time to fit in a little here and a little there. If I do that, it will add up. And that final total will feel so good when I cross the winner’s finish line.

What do you think about speed writing a first draft? Or, if you don’t write, what about getting a project done in a short amount of time, knowing you can go back and “perfect” it later? I’d love to hear your comments below.

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