Ever since 2014, November has become my favourite month.

Why? The answer is simple: National Novel Writing Month –or NaNoWriMo, or NaNo if you’ve been at it for a while.

What’s NaNoWriMo?

For those who don’t know of NaNoWriMo, it’s a month where writers all over the world sit their collective butts in their chairs and each have the goal of writing 50K words in a month. That’s right. 50000 words in 30 days, which means writing 1667 words per day.

The task, for beginners, might seem daunting. Sometimes even experienced NaNoWriMos feel that way, but thanks to the support of the amazing writing community that NaNoWriMo has, writing the 50K words is an amazing, exhausting, nerve-wracking, fun and exhilarating experience. From virtual write-ins to getting together once a week with the local NaNoWriMos to pulling an overnight writing party, the month of November is a rollercoaster of emotions, words, and people who support you while you finally write that story that has been chasing your dreams. Out of NaNo, I have met amazing friends and we keep meeting once a week all year long to write, share a sweet treat, talk and have fun.

When November is over you rest, proud and amazed that, even if not perfect, you have the bones of your story. Months of work will still be ahead of you as you perfect and fix the plot holes, the grammar and your style, but you can do it. The community, though not as alive as in November, is still there.

This is especially true in the months of April and July, where there are two smaller versions of NaNoWriMo, called Camp NaNoWriMo –or Camp NaNo, or just camp! In this one, you can set your own word count.

Besides the amazing community and having a visible goal, both NaNo and Camp NaNo work because you have a meter where you can see your progress, together with a graph and a bar in which to see the progress of your work. This tool is part of what I think makes NaNo work. Having that bar, seeing your progress– a tangible proof that you are not just standing in the same spot–, having a set goal of words for each day, and having the accountability –for those people who are obligers–, simply gets you to sit down and write more than your mind would have you believe you can.

Yet what to do between the NaNo Months? I am determined to publish my books, so I keep working. However, during those months the impulse that NaNo provides gets diluted. I’m tired from work and go from writing the 1667 words a day to a meager 300 words with any luck! My progress visibly slows down and no matter how much I do want to be a writer, my energies are low and sitting down to write gets harder. The only day I get more done is Tuesdays, when with meet with my friends.

So what to do, what to do?

Keeping the same strenous word count as in NaNoWriMo for the whole year while working a full-time job and/or having a family is very hard. Not impossible, but hard.

So I have struggled, managing to keep writing almost every single day, but quite a lower amount of words each day. This was frustrating for me. I wanted to finish the draft I’m working on but, with a meager 300 words a day, it was starting to look that it would take me the whole year to finish–or more! I don’t even want to imagine how much time editing would take me at that pace.

This month I found a solution.

Susanna’s Pacemaker

It is not exactly NaNoWriMo, but it has a planner for your writing that is amazingly personalized. You can count your progress in words, pages, chapters, and many, many, many more options. You can add your progress and see it reflected in a graph or a calendar. You can even print or download your plan in calendar mode so you can add it to your own calendar.

What I love the most in Susanna’s Pacemaker is the pace setting. It is easier in the NaNo months to sit down every single day and get the words out or to have one day or two –or more!– of doubling or tripling the word count because you know it is something you are doing only during that month. In Susanna’s pacemaker, you can set a period of time when you will not be able to write, for example, or if you want to take it either slower or harder on the weekends. For those who love diversity and get bored by doing the same thing every single day, the pacemaker has even an option of randomly setting the daily word count goal, or to make it oscillate, or be like a rollercoaster, or many other more options.

The month of August is young yet, but so far, using the pacemaker I have been able to write a 1000 words a day in the same amout of time it was taking me to write the meager 300 words. It is definitely a psycological effect in my case, but using the pacemaker has improved my progress threefold.

And for those obligers out there who need someone to hold you accountable, Susanna’s Pacemaker also has challenges you can join! I haven’t tried those, but I’m pretty sure you’ll find them enjoyable.

Screenshot 2016-08-05 08.35.02
Screenshot with examples of challenges and paces in Susanna’s Pacemaker.  

 

This writing tool isn’t only for writers. Students who need helping setting a pace for their workload or workers who are having issues with organizing a task can definitely take advantage of it.

I wanted to share this writing tool because it is helping me a great deal in this off-NaNo month. I hope you found it useful!

And I hope to see you in the forums next NaNoWriMo!!

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