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The truth about me & NaNoWriMo

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My official word count for NaNoWriMo is 53,383.  The first 30k was completed in 7 days at the beginning of the month.  My initial goal was 30k because I decided to co-write a book with my Mother-in-law where we each take on 30k for the month.  When I finished my portion of the thing, I sat around moping for a couple of days – this unbelievably ridiculous state of mind I get into when I have finished one project and lament I will never come up with another idea again – then struck upon a fresh idea for a book and decided to go for the NaNoWriMo gold by writing another 20k on the new project.  

Great success!

I made it, with time to spare, but the differences in the process of two books were astounding.  The first book had a basic outline, a plot element for each chapter, a handful of characters and a direction when I started out.  It went smoothly and I barely batted an eyelash in the struggle to come up with a plot.  The second book started out with a concept and that’s it.  Despite the fact that I know the ending of the book, I still have no clue where I’m going with it and the tension is waning because of that.


So now I’m taking a break to reexamine the plot of book two and I decided to also examine my experiences with NaNoWriMo.  It was more illuminating than I thought it might be.  

So here’s the truth about me and NaNoWriMo.

I heart structure

I never thought I would say that.  I never thought it was true, but it all makes sense now.  My desk is sparse, I hate stuff and clutter.  I work best on one story/project at a time.  I took a test the other day that said I was a bit more right brained (organized/logical) than left brained (chaotic/creative).  After all this time of thinking I was so damn free wheeling and intuitive, here I am hearting the hell out of structure.  

Well shit.

Plotting is my least favourite part of writing a book, but it seems once I have the basics, I can easily string everything together. If left alone to my own devices (with no structure) I will meander like crazy and get nowhere fast.  

Who knew?


I guess I did, a little.  I guess in a way it’s lucky I like structure.  My desire for order has allowed me to be a successful freelancer for years and helps me to organize my thoughts and life easily.  But on the flip side I look to people who are able to be completely free and chaotic with a little bit of envy or at least great admiration.  Unfettered randomness is something I would love to be able to achieve, but I have trouble with it.  I can’t just let things fall as they may, I have a desire to pick them up and organize them if they are just scattered about.  

I suppose the grass is always greener isn’t it?

I’m a competitive bitch

It all started when I was young.  I was a figure skater and I competed fervently for medals.  I loved me my gold.  And when you’re young they say it’s not about winning or losing but I don’t think I ever really bought into that crap.  It is about winning and losing sucks.  

So now of course, every time there is a winning condition set for something, I’m on it like a woman possessed, teeth bared and ready to kick ass.  

Who am I competing with?


Well in this case no one in particular, but I still feel that thrill of competition which – if I followed it to it’s fullest extent – would probably allow me to tear down anyone in my path to get to the finish line.  It’s brutal and bloody in my mind.  It’s a chaotic mess of stress and holier-than-thou thought patterns.

Holier than who?

I don’t know…thou.  Whoever thou is in the moment.

I’m not proud of it but in a way I don’t want it to change because it really drives me to get shit done.  When engaged in competition I become a brutal bitch of a doer.  Definitely productive, if not completely healthy.

I have carpel tunnel

Never has it been more apparent then when typing around 4,300 words a day.  

Damn it sucks.  

Deadlines stress me out

For mostly the entire week I was writing my 30k I was stressed.  It’s possible it’s because my MC is a psychopath of course, but I think it was more than that.  I was putting a lot of pressure on myself because I wanted to see just how fast I could do it.  So literally every moment spent now writing I felt stressed.  I felt like I ought to be writing.  

I feel that way just naturally when I’m not working on a project (or even sometimes if I am) but in the case of NaNoWriMo it was massively amplified.  Now in a way it’s good, because I know I will work like hell in the future when I have actual real deadlines, but I kind of wish there was a way to magically undo the stress of it all.  

I’m not satisfied with less

I think I would be kicking myself if I hadn’t done the full 50k.  I’m not satisfied with halfway to the prescribed goal of a thing.

I felt compelled – even if I didn’t realize it at first – to push my word count forward.  It got me a good head start on my new book admittedly, but in retrospect it might have been good to figure out an actual plan before I started it.  Luckily I’m not too far in that if I have to slash and burn a little, I won’t be completely heart broken.

So there you have it.  The truth about me and NaNoWriMo.


I learned a lot more than I thought I would.


So the question is: will I do it again?


I’d like to say the answer is no.  I mean when I have an idea for a book it rarely takes me longer than a month to write the thing.  Plus I’m hoping to get my actual career as a published writer going soon which will give me all the incentive I need (as if I’m lacking).  

But in the end, I might just concede that my competitive nature will flare up when word of next year’s NaNoWriMo hits the twitterverse and I might not be immune to the allure of something I can potentially ‘win’.  

Because even if it’s not a real competition, I certainly found a way to make it one in my mind this year and I can’t see that part of me changing anytime soon.

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The Business of Counting Words

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When I first started out doing the writing thing I never thought I would care about word count.  I thought it was mundane and technical and overall irrelevant to the art of writing.

Now I know better.

It’s not so much it’s relevance to the art that matters, but more to the business, and being a writer is indeed a business.  I find the process of trying to become a published writer not so different from my job as a producer for our video company, Happy Creations.  Although you have to have an undeniable passion for the art, you must also be a freelancer at heart.
The first thing I did when I decided I would be a writer officially was, of course, write.  I wrote a whole novel (around 150,000 words) and then a series of short stories (from 2000-5000 words each).  Then I did the research.  I have a spreadsheet full of lists of magazines, publishers, agents, contests and opportunities and what I began to learn from looking at the business side of things (that part where they pay you to write stuff) is that word count matters.

Some magazines have word count limits, contests too.  Some agents don’t want to read query letters beyond a certain length and even more to the point, a book can be classified as a novel or a novella based on word count alone.

I am currently working on a piece that started out as a short story and then turned into a novella.  Now at 15,000 words and counting, I’m wondering if it won’t go ahead and turn itself into a novel.

So I started out with a reluctance to count words, thinking the process of keeping track and trying to fit more (or less) words into a story would separate me from the art, but I realized that there is more to being a writer than simply art.  It is a business and in business, numbers matter.  So now I count with panache and excitement.  How many words can I write in an hour?  How many words can I get out in a day?

How does counting words effect you?

Do you view your writing as an art, a business or both?

Also, just so you know, this article is 383 words.