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NaNoWriMo and a million words

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with NaNoWriMo or its parent organization. I’ve just been a happy participant. That’s all.

A friend of mine finished a million words through NaNoWriMo on his twelfth NaNo, a remarkable achievement. (A million words in a year’s worth of writing, spread over, well, twelve years!)

I looked at where I stood, and decided it might be achievable for me. I’m two years away from that twelve years (2023 made my tenth NNWM — should’ve been the eleventh, but I skipped 2021), but I’m on track.

What does that mean? Well, 1,000,000 divided by 12 is 83,333 (and a third, but that’s noise at those numbers). So, 83k or so per year for twelve years. Many writers struggle to hit 50k. Some years I’ve struggled to hit 50k.

In fact, around the time I decided to try for it, I hadn’t broken 83k in a November yet! Which meant not only needing to break 83k consistently, but making up lost ground!

In fact, the first four years were: 57,228, 50,537, 76,494 (with a goal of 100k), and 66,666.

(Fun side story: the 66,666 year was not an intended goal. But it started me doing palindromic word counts. When I finished the novel that year, 2016, it was at 66,654. So I wrote twelve more words and resubmitted to the official word counter — back when the website had a validator. It left it at 66,666 all year, mwahahahaha.)

I did some math, and realized I’d barely cleared 250k (1/4 of a million) in 4 Novembers (1/3 of a year’s worth), and needed to average almost 94k words for the next eight years just to make up ground fully. And, of course, there was a good chance I’d stumble.

After all, in 2015, my third NaNo, I’d shot for the stars with 100k, and even made 50k by the 15th, but boy did I lose steam (and my wrists started aching), and it was a real drag even to get to 76k. It made me question if I could even hit 100k at all, thus 2016 was a more modest goal. (It was also the year my friend made his twelfth NaNo and his millionth word.)

The next two years in the million word effort, I broke 100k: 101,101 both years. Then 88,888 (2019, still ahead of the base 83k), but I was significantly behind, then 92,229 (2020). But, you know, I’d made up a little bit of word count. Still needed to clear 91k to have a chance of hitting a million words in NNWM 12, and in 2022 I barely scraped together 70,007, a setback, and suddenly I needed to hit just shy of 100k in every remaining year to make it.

In 2023, this past November, I did an absolutely astonishing 137,731, which did more than just make up some lost ground, it brought the required words for the remaining two years to below par. 79k instead of 83k. Which means a second stellar year this coming November would set me down to an easy 50k or so. How stellar?


If I can clear 108,000 words or so (more likely, 108,801 if I hit it specifically, hah!), I’ll only need 50k in the final year of 2025.

Here’s the thing. IF NaNoWriMo as an organization survives, I’ll track this year and next year on the site. But it’s iffy that the group will make it. There were some real problems that came to light in 2023, and it’s absolutely devastated the organization.

Deservedly so, given the nature of the problems.

And yet, I hate to see such a wildly creative endeavor collapse because of a handful of really, really awful people.

My region’s space on discord and facebook (bleah) has stayed open, but rebranded off the organization. We’ll still do a November event, in all likelihood.

But you know what? It would suck to be two years out, on track to my million words, and not have the original website to track that on.

So I’m capturing it here, at the end of April Camp 2024. (Note: I haven’t really been doing Camp lately, I just kind of toddle along through the year regardless of what’s going on. And when they did the giant website redesign and merged the Camp and November sites, it bumped my total well over a million, because all the Camp projects made it in — much to my frustration.)

Anyway. We’ll see what happens.

But I’m still writing this November, and I’m still going to track whether I do a million words in twelve Novembers (across thirteen years).


Published inNaNoWriMoWriting