One a day keeps the goal in play

Spotify recording of this post can be listened to here.

This is a bonus wrap-up of my NaNoWriMo 2022 posts covering ideas for maintaining a pace to achieve your goal.

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Photo by Dom J on

If you write every day in November, the pace necessary to reach 50k is to write 1,667 words each day. However, if you’re a typical American, you’ve got family obligations as everyone heads into the holiday season, and probably a full-time job or three. It may take you one hour to bang out 1,667 words (at 30 wpm steady typing will net you 1,800 words in an hour). It may take you 3 hours some days because you pause and wonder what happens next, unless you planned and can look over to a quick reference sheet like my worksheets at the bottom of my posts (they’ve been pulled together into a single file below).

Typing as fast as you think does get easier as you get into a flow, so you may start out with a lot of days where you don’t make your word count quickly, but then you’ll start achieving well beyond the word goal as the days progress. Read on for more tips.

Set a schedule

Repeated activities make for habits and habits lead to success. Aristotle in the past, and a lot of people in the present, point this out. So, on this last day of October, set up your calendar to remind you each day at a particular time to sit down and write. If there are days that you will need to skip, don’t put that burden on yourself with a reminder on that day. Lengthen the time you make available to yourself on another day when you can.

TIP: If you can’t write most workdays, remember there are 5 hours between 7 a.m. and 12 noon on a Saturday. Add a couple more hours on Sunday before you do your family things, and you’ve written for seven hours that week.

Don’t worry about corrections

If you edit yourself, you’ll never move forward. If you want to change the direction of the story, simply make the character actions and thoughts shift in the next scene. Jot a note to yourself (add a comment) that this is where you slightly changed course and keep typing.

Another focus idea is “go forward as if you’ve already made the change.” What this means is, if you decide now that you’re writing the store scene that Jack is going to pull together a werewolf costume for Halloween instead of a vampire one, have him collect the things he’ll need for a werewolf costume instead of a vampire one. You’ll fix the inconsistency in editing when everything else is written.

Don’t word count at the end of a session

NaNoWriMo doesn’t require daily updates. It only asks that you periodically update (I do it weekly). You can also dump the entire file into the site’s word counter on the last day, and they will be just as happy as if you had done it daily. Time spent on “housekeeping” like this is time you’d find better spent writing. A few minutes spent here and there and soon you’ve wasted an hour that could have added to your total count.

If you use a program that provides word count automatically (Word has it at the bottom center; Google Docs has it as a menu item under Tools), then look it up and smile, save the file in a couple places. But then get up and walk away to do the other stuff in your life. Remember the TOTAL count matters, not the daily count.

Scenes can be the easiest building blocks

A scene can be short or long. Most scenes are going to run around 1,500-2,000 words though. Paragraphs with descriptions of setting and actions in that setting will run 150-200 words. Dialogue is short, but a series of exchanges between characters with tags and character actions is typically another 150-200 words. You only need ten mix-n-match of these and you’ll have 1,500-2,000 words, and you’ve made the daily goal of 1,667 easily by writing just one scene.

So think of your session in terms of writing one scene: “I’ll just write this one scene about Jane and Jack going to the store to get the materials for the halloween costumes.” Write the details to your heart’s content about the things they pick up and argue over and the conversation they have about who has already RSVP’d to the the party while in the check-out line with the costumed clerk (don’t forget to describe her!)

Sitting to write one scene at a time, you will move smoothly through your story and your word count, and reach your character’s goals at the same time you are reaching your own on November 30.

Come back in December, and I should have news where you can find my self-editing workbook come January when you start editing.

May you have a productive November!

~ Lara

PS – I’m doing a couple different projects this November, and one is non-fiction, but I did put my fiction book up as my 2022 NNWM project. If you want to befriend me on the site, here’s my profile. Note, I am *not* socially active on the site. I check in once a week to update my word counts. Chatting in threads does not add to my word count, so I don’t do it.

The file below (all in one) is a DOCX (Microsoft Word) format. It can be uploaded to Google Docs and worked on there. It can also be opened in LibreOffice, an Open Source free competitor product to Microsoft’s Office suite)

This file is also below as a PDF (downloadable). You can print it out to fill it out with pen or pencil. Discussions about how to fill it out are on these posts.

Published by Lara Zielinsky

I have been writing and publishing for 20 years. I have been an editor of fiction for 15+ years. I am married, live in Florida and work from home full time as an editor.

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