Wednesday, 7 October 2009

NaNo - Dividing up the Big Numbers

Writing 50,000 words in a month - especially coherent 50,000 words - is challenging. Consider on top of that most of us aren't full time writers, it's even bigger challenge. Personally for me, the only writing time is evenings and weekends. Consider that on some evenings, after work, you just haven't got the energy or the will. All that adds up. But there are ways to handle it. While my first and foremost goal for November is doing 50K words, I also have a personal goal of 90K for my NaNo. I imagine my full first draft should be somewhere around 90K, so instead of just aiming for 50K, I am aiming for a full first draft. That's even more challenging, because I honestly don't know if I can do it or not. But I am going to try, and so in preparation, I have prepared a spreadsheet. Ok let me assure you that for those of you who are not spreadsheet slaves (me), you can use even simpler methods. Sorry, I couldn't post the spreadsheet here because the image kept coming very bad. First, I have a column listing dates 1st to 30th. I have columns for 4 different targets. Daily Target - 3000 words Weekly Target - 18000 words NaNo Target - 50000 words Personal Target - 90000 words All these different targets aren't necessary, but I prefer them. Even though I set daily targets, I know that they are the hardest to meet. All my days aren't the same, so my essential focus is on the weekly target. That gives me some flexibility with the days. My week consists of 6 days, so 5 weeks total. The reason for this division is to have a small target each week, as oppose to worrying about 90K at all times. The reason why I have NaNo Target column is so I know that if I keep getting closer to it, but not near to 90K, that's okay. NaNo Target is the "must achieve" target. But at the same time, having a seperate column for Personal Target gives me an incentive to keep pushing for. I also have column for daily word count - and as soon as I put the number in, I will get automatic results for how many words I have done that week, how much of the 50K balance remains, and how much of the 90K balance remains. Of course when you are writing, you don't want to keep wasting time on inputting numbers in a spreadsheet, so if you do create something like that, set up forumals in advance. I have got all of that ready, so all I need to do is put the daily word count in. I find that focusing on small word count at a time is less intimidating and gives you bit more motivation. If you think you've got to write 50K, you might think it seems impossible, and so you may as well give up now. But if you say to yourself, I have got to do 2000 words. Suddenly, it doesn't seem all that big. Like I mentioned before, you don't need a spreadsheet. You can simply use a pen and a paper, and simply write down your daily word count, and add it all up at the end. Or you can just post your word count in a counter, and only keep your progress that way. There are no rules. What you have to think about is how you can make the NaNo seem just that little bit more easier for you to manage.


  1. Are you going to use yWriter for your NaNo draft? There's a neat little feature in there that will keep track of how much you write each day, and tell you how much you need to write to finish x many words by x date.

    I generally just go to the NaNo site daily and input my new word count there. When I get behind (as I inevitably do), I recalculate my daily words needed. I do that a lot.

    On second thought, maybe I should do a spreadsheet... ;-)

  2. Like Jamie, I usually just go to the NaNo site and input my word count there.

    I usually have a sheet of paper on my desk that has calculations for daily progress on it, just to keep me on track.

  3. No, I won't be using yWriter. I don't mind it for editing, but I prefer to write in MS Word. Especially for the first draft, with ywriter, I will end up wasting more time clicking on things I don't need.

    I will probably update word count on NaNo website as well, but I like to keep a spreadsheet anyway for personal record. I tend to do that for most of my projects. Spreadsheet addict! :P

  4. Nice post, LW. :)

    What I usually do is a lot more basic. At the end of the day, I work out my word count for the day and write it on my whiteboard. I then use that as a target for the next day. So, if on Monday I write 1k, I'll aim for 1k or more on Tuesday, then use Tuesday's count for Wednesday. It's not perfect, but it's about as complex as I can cope with. ;-)


  5. Nothing wrong with simplicity, Adam, as long as it works for you. I guess I just like elaborate calculations :P

  6. Wow! There's something to be said about organization.

  7. Tara, organisation is easy - it's putting stuff into action that I have got a problem with :P