Monday, November 19, 2012

Crazy NaNo Word Counts

How do I write more than 100,000 words in a month?
How do I write 50k in 10/11/15 days?

Good questions me, thank you for asking. Since I managed to get 50,000 words this year on day 10 and I'm already at over 90k with still more and month to go, I decided this might be a good blog post to create during one of my Write-or-Die sprint sessions. There are a few things that I can contribute to how I write that much within a short from of time. And those things are:

1. Grabbing the time whenever I can (also for the last two years this has been known as Luck)
- 2010 I ended up losing my job in October and didn't get another for a few months so I had all of November with no job while living at my parents (who are very awesome for all their support). That meant I had a lot of time and is partly how I managed to 50k in 13 days.
- Last year, I had a job but I worked only about 20 hours a week, sometimes slightly less and maybe once like 24 hours. So, even though I had to work (like working thanksgiving morning cause it was a grocery store), I still had a lot of time and still lived at my parents. (I don't have my own kids or a partner so yeah.)
- This year is a little different in that at the beginning of the month I had a job with minimal hours but something happened at the very end of October. I got a job offer. Yay! But oh, writing... So, yeah. The first week I had just the small 12 hour schedule but now I've got my new job and more hours. I now am working 6-8 hours a day, 5 days a week. But the key is, I still am finding ways to write, like how I'm writing this blog post which I normally use this sprint to write another part of a scene. I am getting over 3k before I go to work and then whatever I manage to write before bed.
2. Writing Sprints (aka Write or Die!)
Okay, this one is a re-new one. I tried the program back in 2008 online and while it helped a little, I didn't like it. But that was back when to paste it to the word programs it would all end up in a block single paragraph instead of having any spaces but they fixed it. Thank you fixer people! But yes, last year I did do some writing sprints but they were just with some friends in chat and self timed. This year, I'm in a writing group where we get points to taking part in writing sprints and there are official times to do them. They are helping me get my writing done because even on my days off I struggle to get work done at times and more of my writing is getting done during those times because when writing fast I can get about 1400-1800 words in 30 minutes on average. And I can get 7-800 words done in 15 minutes for shorter ones. That adds up fast.

3. A novel that is ready to be written.
This one is a tough one because it's really hard to predict if a novel is ready, at least for me. I have no idea until I start writing whether it will be a really easy one or whether it will be a struggle. Back in 2010 I had never written very much with only one nanowrimo win under my belt then so I made a March writing goal of only 25,000 words for the month. The novel went so well that I wrote 50k in 15 days and 65k for the whole month. Last year's nanowrimo I had one novel reach 99k+ that I haven't even planned to write, just kind of went with it. And the novel I had planned to write and prepped, I only managed to write 25k+ that month (pesky YA). Since my track record with fantasy was 50k in 13 days but my records for Young Adult is more like 14-25k in a month, this year I didn't know what to expect. I certainly didn't think my novel I thought would be maybe 80-100k for the whole story would end up at 90k on day 17, and new predictions are for 150k for the total first draft count. But I had no idea this novel would be that ready (especially since the lack of world building is to the point I'm naming things "something or other"). But I guess it felt ready in the end.

4. Support
- I have some really great friends online when it comes to writing. Granted, I know a few people who absolutely hate NaNoWriMo and a couple who raised their eyebrows at me for writing yet another novel first draft when I have two rewritten books that need editing (and are far closer to being submitted than anything else) but even they are supportive when it comes to my writing. Whether it's friends on Writing.Com, Twitter, Facebook (my grandmother likes my nanowrimo updates on facebook, lol), or in the blogger world. Everyone is great. Thank you to everyone who puts up with me and encourages me during my crazy writing attempts during november.
- I also find that one of the things that helps me to feel motivated and keep going is by helping others. On I have a nanowrimo related group with a forum that I keep updated and try to post some fun things on occasion, like youtube links. I'm in other groups where I am either just a member or I have a specific role where I answer questions and post supportive comments when I see someone is struggling. I also post on my nanowrimo region forums or on the regions facebook group. I try not to sound boasting about my word count number even though I sometimes post my number for others to see because while I may have a ton of words now, I remember what it is like to be on the struggling side. Since I took 3 years to ever make 50k in 30 days and back then I thought writing it in less than 20 days was like, impossible. Crazy how things work out.

5. Caffeine/Sugar
Okay, I might but running out of things to add to my list but I've still got 5 minutes on this writing sprint so why not devote a section to caffeine and sugar! I do drink more coffee during November than any other month. This year it is even more than last year because back then I was in small town Wyoming so no starbucks or any 24 coffee places to go and hang out in to write. I did all my writing from home then, though I did drink some coffee and my eating habits are never very great during nanowrimo. I've had far more fancy coffee drinks this month than I have probably all year with the exception of maybe the month where I had to go to starbucks to get internet when I first moved and didn't have access in my apartment. I also have bought a few treats and such while going to those places (like chocolate pastries or cakepops). So, sugar and coffee help, sort of.

6. Finding What Works For Me!
This is the big one. I have practice writing novels at this point (6th year in nanowrimo and I write all year long off and on) at least that I have a good idea what works for me. It may not work for other people to write fast or to work on more than one novel at the same time, but it's what works for me. It takes times and maybe a few tests, and this isn't set in stone either, it will change and develop over the years. But I allow myself to figure it out and not try to write like others (though I may try suggestions). I know that there is no one way besides the whole "Write" part of it. I find that I'm okay with the "it's allowed to suck" mentality and getting out the words as fast as I can because I know that rewrites and edits are needed. I also know with some novels I go slower and take my time getting them done. I vary and I'm okay with that. Being able to say I write this way and I don't mind even with a couple of the naysayers has really helped me in general.

So, these are some things that help me reach crazy word count goals in a single month.
How are you? ;-)


Erin Kane Spock said...

I did great the first ten days, then life got busy and I had to cut loose. I'm at 18k right now. Maybe I'll catch up, maybe I won't. It's been a great platform for production, but I have to not care whether or not I complete the month or I'll go nuts.

Dawn Embers said...

Erin - Good point. I know some worry too much and feel devastated if they think they won't make it. While I make crazy amounts sometimes I don't even make my goal. Like this month, I may not finish the novel this month and I have to be okay with that. I try to tell anyone who is feeling down on their word count that they did some writing and that's awesome! Doesn't matter if it's 2,000 words or 100,000. It's progress.


I write like
Arthur Conan Doyle

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I write like
Mark Twain

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!