Today is the day your NaNoWriMo fate is decided. Win or lose, it happens today.

It has nothing to do with your current word count. You can be up to 49,500 words and lose. You can be sitting at 500 words and win. (I’m not joking about that. There are multiple people in my region alone that can manage the entire 50K in a day or two.)

We’re now past the halfway point. By now, the shine has probably worn off a bit. You’ve discovered that a single idea, no matter how awesome, cannot support a novel. You’ve spotted some of the problems with your characters, your plot, your premise. You’ve learned that while parts of this process are exhilirating, a lot of it just isn’t as fun or glamorous as it might seem.

You’ve also seen how writing fits into your schedule–or how it doesn’t. The concrete decisions that you have to make when life intrudes. The cool stuff you’ve missed out on. The sleep you’ve sacrificed. Your word count as it relates to ass-in-chair time is no longer an abstract variable. The magic “words per today to finish on time” number is probably no longer 1667. Whether it’s much higher, much lower, or somewhere in between, you know how big a mountain you have left to climb, and likely have a better idea than you had at the beginning of the month of the effort it’s going to take to get there.

So, are you willing to put in that effort?

That’s all it really comes down to: how bad you want it. You have to decide, right now, with twelve days left to go, if you’re willing to pull out whatever stops need to be pulled to cross that finish line.

I must stress that if you’re not, that’s perfectly fine. About 85% of the people who sign up for this competition don’t finish, and we love our Fail Fairies. This is a glimpse into the life of a professional writer: a significant effort toward the goal each and every day, whether you feel like it or not. Not everyone is meant to be a professional, and that’s fine. I don’t have to start training for the Olympics to enjoy going for a swim. (This is also far from the only way to be a professional. Everyone’s process is different) And even if you don’t hit 50K, you’re still going to have a whole mess of words that didn’t exist at all 30 days earlier. That’s an undeniably awesome thing. Realizing that a winning word count isn’t going to happen doesn’t mean that you should stop, and your ability to share your story with the world someday does not hinge entirely on this month’s efforts. If you want to keep writing, keep writing. Don’t let the fact that you’re not willing to bend over backwards to crank out 5K a day stop you entirely.

But if you do want it that bad, if you can look at the numbers and your track record of writing sessions and the plot holes and pitfalls that stand ahead of you and still think, “Yes, bring it on! I will destroy you!”, if you need that little purple 14 bubble on your NaNo profile as primally as you need oxygen?

Do it.

Ass in chair. No excuses. Make words happen.

Today, you decide how this month will end. After that, it’s just details.

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