Five Necessities for the #50K5DAYS Challenge

October 23, 2014

As if NaNoWriMo wasn't hard enough already, a group of us decided to up the 'cray' factor—instead of the usual thirty day goal, we decided to do it in five.  (Yes, that's right—the #50K5DAYS challenge requires writing 10,000 words per day for five days straight. Egads!)

So, should you do it? Let's find out! Here are my top five necessities for completing #50K5DAYS.

1. Speed. I'm talking dexterity, not drugs (heh!)—to successfully complete #50K5DAYS, you must be able to type quickly. There's no getting around it. If you can't commit your thoughts to digital paper at break-neck speeds, your odds of hitting 10K a day are low. There's nothing wrong with having a slower typing speed; I just want to warn you ahead of time that it's essential for this challenge. Your ability to make things up on the fly real fast is just as critical—typing speed alone won't save you if production at ye old Novel-Writer's Bullshit Emporium can't keep churning ideas at a similar pace.

2. Overachieve. The excitement of  NaNoWriMo is in full force on November 1st, so use those first-day jitters to your advantage and blow past 10K. You'll need that cushion for the days ahead when you're fatigued and questioning why you committed to this asinine challenge in the first place. (I wrote 16K on November 1st last year and it made all the difference. )

3. Commit. Declare your intentions everywhere and to anyone who will listen. The more people you tell, the more obligated you'll feel to follow through with the challenge. Even though you don't need to prove anything to anyone, prove it anyway. Prove that you're a badass who thinks with their fingers and gets things done and sticks to their word. (Above all, prove this to yourself!)

4. Time. If you don't have a lot of it, this will be about as fun as getting kicked in the shin by a little kid fifty thousand times in a row. Writing 10K a day requires substantial chunks of free time, so don't beat yourself up if you're working and raising kids and can't for the life of you hit your word count goal by the end of the day. Consider your schedule and day-to-day demands carefully and remind yourself that while you are quite awesome indeed, there may not realistically be enough time in your day to do #50K5DAYS. Real life challenges come first; don't throw arbitrary stuff like this in the mix if it's going to make you miserable.

5. Chutzpah. I think this speaks for itself—writing a novel requires dedication. With a timed challenge like NaNoWriMo or #50K5DAYS, that dedication has to take on a competitive edge and get amped up on steroids, STAT. Yes, I am indeed encouraging you to embrace your competitive edge (no matter how big or small it may be) and use it to your advantage. Aim to beat the daily word counts of friends and strangers, track your time meticulously, and push yourself to write efficiently and not too shabbily with each word sprint. Don't be afraid to brag about your accomplishments via social media either; you're working hard and have every right to celebrate the goals you've met and the things you've created.

The intimate (and seemingly ENDLESS hours) spent with your novel during this challenge is worth it in the long run. For right now,  though, this challenge is for YOU. It's for you to prove to yourself that you are an awesome human being who can push through obstacles and fatigue and get shit done. I don't care if you're writing 50K in a day, a month, or a year—what matters is that you committed to do something incredibly challenging and followed through. YOU DID IT.

You wrote the first draft of a novel and you did it fast. You shattered your comfort zone and accomplished what once seemed impossible. You, my friend, are a writer.

Five days is an arbitrary number; like with any challenge, it's going to be too fast, too slow, or just right depending on the circumstances shaping your life.  Whether or not the #50K5DAYS challenge is right for you, make yourself accountable to whatever challenge you choose and announce your intentions boldly. Push yourself to your limits and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that follows. It's a high like no other and I promise you'll never forget the feeling for as long as you live.

And hey, you'll even get the first draft of a novel out of it.

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