This year, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time. Simply, the goal is to start a new novel and write 50,000 words, all from November 1-30. Thirty days to write fifty thousand words. The idea behind the challenge is to just keep writing and get to the end. The emphasis is on quantity because so many writers never finish novels because they are always editing as they go. They forget that even if they write and finish a crappy first draft, they’ll still have a whole book!
Nowadays, 50k words isn’t really a whole book, though. Back in the day, The Great Gatsby clocked in at like 50,061, but now books tend to shoot more around the 100,000 mark, plus or minus fifteen thousand. But, for those like me, who have only written short stories, 50k is plenty to aim for, even if the book isn’t finished by that number. Just getting to 50k in 30 days is the challenge.
In order to reach 50k in 30 days, writers need a daily word count of 1,667. Most of us can write more than that a day, but the point is, that’s the minimum you need to write each day if you’re going to make it. Thanks to repeating decimals and rounding up, if you do ONLY 1,667 words each day, you’ll get 50,010 words! YAY you rose above the challenge!
Today, on the forums for Nanowrimo, I came across another way to reach the total word count. This formula takes advantage of the enthusiasm writers have when they start the challenge, knowing that it gets harder as you go. This system uses a much higher word count on day 1 (3,393) and works its way down to the last day where the writer must write 1 word. Seriously, 1 word. If the writer wants to aim for a full 100k book in November, just double the daily word count. This means I would start day 1 with 6,786 words and on November 30 I’d write 2 words. ”The End” maybe? :-)
Like I said, this takes advantage of the great enthusiasm NaNos have come midnight, Nov. 1, but it also has some other advantages. When the month is winding down, but holiday season is winding up, the word count gets less and less. Would you rather write 1,667 words on Thanksgiving day or 918? That’s almost a 750 word difference and it comes 24 days in, when momentum may be stalling. Another advantage is that starting day 13, the word count drops below the 1,667 that is needed the other way! That’s 18 days of not fighting for 1,667. And yes, some of us do fight to get that high on word counts.
Anyway, for anyone else interested in this countdown method, I quickly threw together a no-frills calendar with the daily word counts. This is for 50k, since I’m going to aim for that before I consider anything else. (The longest short story I’ve written to date was almost 8,000 words, so you can see why I’m nervous.)
Click the calendar for full size, right-click, and save!