Count me in…

Hey cHEwY gum gums

A few of my writer-friends have decided to take on the NaNoWriMo challenge. That’s National Novel Writing Month, where you’re supposed to write a 50,000 novel in 30 days. I guess it’s not too late to start today haha.

I’ve never been tempted to have a go myself. Mainly because none of my novels have reached 50,000 words haha. But mainly because the mere thought of writing something fresh in just a month just makes my head hurt. If there ever was a National Game Playing Month, sign me up!

According to Joe Bunting’s helpful blog, you need to write 1667 words a day to knock off the 50,000 words. I find that daunting. And yet, this is probably the only concrete way you can measure your progress. If a non-writer friend or family member asked you about how productive your writing day was, they’d expect to hear a word or page count.

I get a bunch of updates on Twitter and Facebook about people’s work in progress. 4000 words in an afternoon. 9000 words in a week. Sometimes you may wonder, how many of those words are actually good? How many sentences will survive the editing cut? I’m sure the writer already knows those answers. But you can’t take away that sense of achievement. It boosts your confidence quicker than five shots of coffee!

I don’t have a daily word count goal. If I did, I would be failing every second day haha. I’ve had days where I’ve only written about 400 words, BUT I have thought very hard about my characters and I know where it’s going. How can you measure daydreaming or brainstorming? So for me, I measure my writing progress with time. If I am writing from home, I usually spend 6 hours in front of the laptop. Whatever happens, happens haha.

But word count still affect me. When I come up with a synposis for a cHEwY creation (that’s a book), I slap on a rough word count, like 25,000 words. That’s not an actual goal, but it’s something in the back of my head, as I write my first draft. When I was working on Don’t Follow Vee back in April, I was on a roll. I had the first 8000 words in a few days. At the rate I was going, I thought I would have the first draft completed by May. But when May rolled along, I was struggling to get 10,000 words. By July, my word count stalled at around 16,000 words. I was chopping and re-writing, but it felt like forever before I was past that dreaded 16000 word mark. After that, the floodgates opened and I got the whole thing finished before my deadline (with a day to spare haha), but that word count factor never goes away. It stays with you, in the corner of your eye (well…computer really).

Every writer needs to set themselves some goals, whether it’s a deadline date, word count tally or both. Whatever works for you is the best way. I know some writers tear themselves up to bits when they fall behind, but I think you have to accept those days and keep chugging along. So good luck to every writer who is doing NaNoWriMo. At the end of the day, you need to believe in your story and have faith with the direction that it’s going. That way, you’ll really make each word count.



About the author

I'm an author, stand-up comedian and teacher. My books include Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd, Punchlines and The Other Christy. I'm a massive Nintendo fan and love eating burgers. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @oliverwinfree

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