Lower Your Expectations to Up Your Word Count

We’re halfway through the month of April! That means only 11 more days until Camp NaNoWriMo is over. For some of you, that’s a good thing. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. You’re on track (or maybe even ahead) of where you need to be in order to hit your word count goal on time. For others – like me – the idea of having less than two weeks to pull out a win induces panic attacks and feelings of self-loathing.

It’s the latter I’m addressing in today’s blog post – those who have, for one reason or another, fallen behind in your Camp NaNo writings.

I don’t know the exact stats for how many Camp NaNo participants actually reach their word count goals each camp session, but I do know that the majority of WriMo’s don’t win. And for the first time in nearly 2 years of straight NaNo wins, I’m beginning to feel that I might be one of the majority this time. One of those who fall short of their goal.

I have excuses, but do they really matter? Ultimately, my life was unexpectedly turned on its ear and I lost nearly two weeks of valuable NaNo-ing time at the beginning of April. But if those of us that are lagging want to emerge from Camp NaNo victorious, we can’t focus on what’s happened, but what we can still make happen.

I’ve noticed that, at this point, there’s a common trend amongst those of us who are falling behind: we’re intimidated. You’ve gotten so far off track that the modest 25k you set as your goal at the beginning of the month is now insurmountable, considering you’ve only written 3k words so far.

So what to do about this? Avoid working on your WIP because it scares you? No! The answer is – and hear me out on this one – to lower your expectations by lowering your word count goal.

Before you all jump down my throat on this, let me explain. I hardly ever advocate lowering your expectations. It’s important to keep your standards high in all areas of your life. BUT, sometimes in rare instances, it’s okay to lower your expectations. Just a bit. And I believe that Camp NaNo is one of those times.

Think about it this way: what is the purpose of Camp NaNo? To write. That’s it. GETTING THE WORDS OUT! That’s what being a WriMo entails. What Camp NaNo is not about is choking. It’s not about falling behind, then looking at how many words you have left to write, and running away with your tail between your legs.

So, even though I might call it borderline-cheating, I think that it can be beneficial to go into your Camp NaNo novel settings and change your word count goal for the month. Now, I’m not saying to go in and make it only 1k words so, BAM, you’ve already won. I’m saying to go lower it by 5k. Or to calculate how much you think you can write in the next 11 days and then set that as your goal.

But when you do go to change your word count, be wary of a few things:

– Be careful not to make this a habit. Do not plan on doing this every single time you participate in Camp Nano because you’ll never truly push yourself if you always have a safety net.

– Don’t perpetually lower your goal. Don’t go back in and keep whittling at your goal until it’s next to nothing.

– Once you do lower your goal you better make every effort to actually complete it. Don’t make more excuses. The cool thing about Camp NaNo is you CAN change your word count. But it doesn’t mean you should do it continually.

I’d also like to note that I don’t want to cheapen the victories of those that stuck by their initial word count goals and are on track to reaching them by the end of the month. You all deserve a huge round of applause. But the point of NaNo is to write, and if you are intimidated by your goal and unable to write because of it, then adjust your expectations. Writing a few thousand more words to reach your new goal is better than writing no words at all in fear of not reaching your old goal. If lowering your word count goal will get you to write more, then do it.

And remember the most important thing to do during Camp NaNo: enjoy it. Win or lose, have fun with your writing. Life is short and we write because we must. Because we love it. Because we don’t know how to not. Push yourself to reach your goals, but don’t lose sight of why you write in the first place – for the fun of it.


Where do you stand on changing your Camp NaNo goals mid-month? Let us know in the comments below!


4 thoughts on “Lower Your Expectations to Up Your Word Count

  1. I’m just over 17k with a 30k goal- still perfectly doable! However, early on things were going smoothly and I upped my goal to 40k, but later put it back down to 30k as I realised it interrupted my flow. As stated in the blog, the point is to write, so I totally agree with doing what works for you. I also realised that I’ve already beaten my word count goal from November which is quite a boost- prooves that a lower goal can in fact make you more productive.

    • I definitely agree that a lower goal can make you more productive! When I have a low goal, I near it faster, which is very motivating and makes me want to write more. Each time I reach and surpass my goal, it feels great and I want to write even more. And so the cycle of motivation continues :D

  2. Pingback: Write What You Want; How I Won (But Really Lost) Camp NaNoWriMo | The Sprint Shack

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