Making a plan to stop NaNoWriMo word count panic

Chasing word counts is a daily angst for me.  With newspaper pieces I’m constantly editing, condensing, and cutting to cram as much as I can in 800 words or less. Sometimes it’s easy, but most of the time I cut quotes, descriptions and explanations I wish I could keep in. And on noon deadline days I’m often biting down panic as I hack an article down to size like a scissor happy hairdresser.

For PR writing the pain is similar.  I get passionate about my subjects, particularly patient testimonials, and have a tendency to gather more information than I need.  Technical writing is the only area where it’s easy to condense, but that’s probably because I’ve been doing it the longest.  And because it’s ingrained that more verbiage just clouds clarity.

But fiction is another beast entirely.  I edit, revise and cut just as much, EXCEPT during the first draft.  While letting my imagination off the leash, I lock up my inner editor.  This isn’t easy, but imperative.  I shush, ignore, and mentally duct tape her mouth shut.  Then, at the end of each two-hour playdate with my characters, I update my spreadsheet with the new word count.

For my first novel, I waited until I’d written 80K words before I unlocked the door and let my inner editor out to rampage the pages with red pen.  Now that novel has gone through several revisions but the characters in the next one are clamoring to get out of my head and onto paper.

So, I signed up for NaNoWriMo (a.k.a. National Novel Writing Month).


Along with thousands of writers around the world I’ll attempt to squeeze more words into each day, with the goal of finishing 50K words by November 30 as a significant kickstart to my novel’s first draft.  That’s 1666.66 words each day, every day. It took at least 6 months to do that with novel #1.

Yes, this goal makes my eyes bug.

whites of my eyes
You can see the whites of my eyes

I’ve never written that many words in a month. Experience says it will take me about two hours of fiction writing each day, unless I get on a roll.  Two hours is a lot.  After signing up, when I looked at my already jam-packed calander, my eyes bugged even more.

So, I took a deep breath.  Then another.  And another.  When my heart stopped racing I made a plan.  I already write fiction 4.5 hours each week during my daughter’s choir rehearsal so I needed to carve another 9.5 hours out of each week.  I looked at what I could give up to find those 9.5 hours.

  • 4 hours of T.V. each week.
  • 30 minutes of social media each day.
  • 30 minutes of sleep each day.

If one week I watch too much T.V., that means I’ll have to sleep less or spend less time on Facebook and Twitter.  It’s not set in stone but it’s a workable plan that should make NaNoWriMo totally doable.

I’m curious.  What have you given up to pursue a goal?

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  • Good luck with Nanowrimo! This’ll be my third year (hopefully as successful as the first year and more successful than my dismal second attempt). It looks like you’ve carved out a great plan. I’m not nearly as organized, but I suspect I’ll be giving up more sleep than I should. Glad I stumbled upon your blog!

    • Hi Kitty,
      Good luck to you too. You must have had fun to make this your third year doing NaNoWriMo. Any tips for a newbie? Beyond the staggering word count, I’m wondering how much extra time I’m going to spend waste uploading and rabbit trailing around the website, though I hope to meet other writers. Like you!

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