Sunday, November 2, 2008

Word Count

I began Nanowrimo today. It's my first, and to be honest, I've fallen short of the 1667 words a day which would help me reach my goal of 50,000 by the end of the month. Does that mean I've had a bad day? If I didn't have this number breathing down my neck, I'd be pretty darn happy at what I've accomplished today. I began a new novel, which only yesterday had been a few random thoughts and a sketchy outline. It's a good feeling to embark on a new adventure.

Then I think of that word count and my writing high comes crashing down.

I'm not sure why I signed up for Nano. I'm not good with deadlines. You know, lose 10 pounds in two weeks. Sounds easy, but show up at the scale and you'll find out the truth soon enough. Nothing is as easy as it sounds. There's work, sacrifice and lots of grilled chicken. 1667 words a day for me, I hate to admit, is a lot of grilled chicken.

I mull as I write. I stare off into space. I pillage the kids' Halloween bags for miniature peanut butter cups. It's not that I can't reach that number. I can, I have, but not every day for a month. So am I doomed to fail before I even get started? I can't look at it like that. What I'm trying to take away from this is a new way to work.

Writing without editing is next to impossible for me. Heck, it can take me fifteen minutes to compose a simple sick note for school. So a novel? I tend to work on my beginning until I feel I've gotten it just right, then I move on. This alone can take a month. Participating in Nano, I hope, will jolt me out of this practice.

Normally I don't pay that much attention to word count per day, but for the sake of shaking my writing habits up a little, I will. If at the end of November I have 50,000 words, awesome. If not, I know I'll have something. A launching pad. The raw material to play with. And a month of writing.

So what's a good writing day for you? A certain number of words, or something else?


  1. You may find that some days you write more than the needed number of words. I think the best attitude to have is simply to enjoy the process. At the end of the month, 50,000 words or not, you'll be father along than you were in October. And that's a good thing.

  2. Yes, it's good advice to simply "enjoy the process." I wouldn't worry about word counts. Have fun with this, Robin!

    You asked what makes a good writing day. I have an acid test: if what I wrote yesterday still looks good the next morning, then I had a good day.

  3. Congratulations on getting started, Robin. I agree with Bish. "50,000 words or not, you'll be further along than you were in October." And that's awesome!

    Pushing out of your comfort zone like this seems like it could be very exciting for creativity. Good luck and enjoy the process!

  4. You go girl! I agree that less than 50,000 words come December 1 is still more than you had on October 31.

    A good writing day for me is feeling pleased with what I did - sometimes it's not even writing, it may be research, or a *&^% outline!

  5. Thanks everyone! Yes, I'm looking at it as something to give me a jolt. I have family here right now, the kids are off from school and while I'm not looking at those facts as an excuse, it's been difficult being pulled in different directions. Why isn't Nano in February or something, lol? But I guess there are always things pulling me in different directions, so that's the challenge. I can hardly complain after reading the story about the woman who gave birth and also "won" Nano last November!

    Things will quiet down mid-week, so I'm plainning on putting the heat on then. My challenge has always been to "enjoy the process". This is a fun exercise. (like doing 100 cruches a day for month! lol)

  6. Robin: I'll be following your progress this month with great interest. Between your kids and your new home, you have plenty of obligations/distractions to keep you from writing, just like me. Knowing this, if you're able to hit even half your word goal, I'll be jazzed. It'll be further proof that I have no excuses not to be doing more fiction writing--no matter how bleeping busy I am with kids and work. I'm rooting for you!

  7. I, too, was oh-so-enthusiastic on October 31. I had really good character sketches of my three main characters and couldn't wait to develop them further, along with a plot.


    A plot.

    I started off on Saturday, writing in the back seat of my Prius as we headed to the beach to visit the in laws. Loved my first paragraph and then hated HATED everything that came next. I maybe got through 200 words and called it a day.

    The next morning, I took myself to the coffee shop and scribbled out about 1500 or so words. Today I'm up to 2708. But the truth is, most of those 2708 words suck. I'm off on tangents that bore me, that I know will never see the light of day in a finished work.

    I hope I eventually find my way. Like Robin, I usually take a great deal of time with my writing. Pounding away is totally foreign to me. I am making myself write whatever comes into my head and that's it.

    If I made you all read and critique this draft you would hate me.