NaNoWriMo – Week 1 Re-Cap – How Many Hours Are You Writing Per Day?

Hopefully all NaNoWriMo participants have made it successfully through the first week! For me, the experience has yielded some surprises. For one thing, I had nightmares about slaving away in front of my computer 5 hours a day and struggling to meet the my daily quota of three pages. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it takes me, on average, 1 to 1-1/2 hours per day to meet the quota. Since I set aside 2 hours every day to write anyway, I am actually netting an extra 30 minutes of free time per day. (You heard that right—full-time working mother/aspiring writer actually has 30 minutes of free time per day. Who would have thought that NaNoWriMo would yield free time?)

I’m learning that it’s okay not to write perfectly the first time. Sometimes I spend a lot of time agonizing over a particular sentence or paragraph, and my daily output is low. For NaNo, if I can’t figure out a perfect wording for a sentence, I just write something that captures the main idea, then move on. I can word smith the piece when the novel is complete. What’s neat is the surprises that crop up when I’m not trying to force things and make everything perfect—the surprising plot twists or dialogue exchanges. Experiencing the independent life force of my story is a real joy.

I’m also learning that I can write a lot faster than I ever gave myself credit for. I may use the NaNo process for all future books that I write. I do have to say that creating an outline ahead of time has really been helpful, even if large aspects of the outline end up going out the window during the actual writing. It’s always easier to reach a destination if you know where you’re going when you start out.

I dropped a note to my NaNoWriMo “support group” to see how long it takes them to meet their daily quota. Here are there responses:

Erin Wilcox says: I write first drafts by hand, so it looks like my system will be to write for a week and then take the seventh day to type up what I've written the last six days. I do like to get my words into the computer so I can navigate more easily and keep better track of the world building I'm doing, but for some reason the magic happens for me when I start with a pen and paper. I have written for two to three hours a day on average. I am not targeting a daily quota. Although I've got the 50,000 word goal in mind and would love to meet it, my primary concern is to have a blast doing this. For one thing, readers pick up whatever the writer is feeling when she puts words on the page, and I want my readers to have a great time. For another, I really feel like my whole life has been leading up to this novel, and I'm not about to ruin the experience of finally writing it by stressing about a few thousand words. Right now I'm at 3,239, and I feel great.

Dinesh Pulandram says:I don't really have a daily word quota. My goal is to finish the 50k by the end of month. Saying that, I'd like to do a few 10k word
days - which takes around 12 hours. And then split the rest into 5-6k word days.

What are other writers experiencing with their daily quotas?