NaNo What Now?

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I’m meeting my writing goals but by binge writing, not writing every day. Is this bad?

by Dec 7, 2010My Writing, On Writing: Craft and Commiseration, Word Count Updates and Writing Goals, Works in Progress0 comments

NaNoWriMo has been over for exactly a week now and I wanted to show you guys something. I have had several people ask me why I keep tweaking my writing goals when “obviously I write a ton.” Let me show you the problem. Visually.

The following is a graph of my word count for November’s NaNoWriMo novel (x axis is the date, y axis is words written per day, forgot to label them).

The goal of any writer is to write every day. Every single day. In fact, in many ways, that’s the point of NaNoWriMo: to make yourself write 1667 words every day so you finish on time.

Look at that mess up there. Notice how I have lots of multi-thousand word days followed by long, sad days in which I wrote nothing, not even one stinkin’ word. Thanksgiving break aside, I’m all over the place, up and down like some kind of spastic binge writer.

This has always been how I write. I have a busy life. I don’t usually get free time two days in a row and when I do have a chance to write, I go whole hog and just write as much as I can because who knows when I’ll next have the chance. When I set my fiction writing goal for the year (500 words a day which would be 182,500 words for the year) I set it for the year because I knew that was the only way I’d hit it. 500 words a day seemed impossible but 182,500 (and later when I upped it to 200,000) for the whole year seemed totally doable because I knew I could binge to make up days. And I hit it. Early.* Which seems good.

So here’s where I need some advice. Obviously, I write every day (it’s part of my job) but I don’t write fiction every day. I can write the equivalent of 500 words of fiction every day over the course of a year but I can’t actually write 500 words of fiction every day. According to every writing advice I’ve read ever, this is bad.

But I’m still hitting the same count as someone who’s writing every single day and I’m writing every day, just not fiction. Am I, perhaps, interpreting the “write 500 words every day” rule too literally? Is the point of the rule just to make you write as often as possible? Or is it just to make you write something (fiction or non) every day to keep the writing muscles going? Am I supposed to be counting both fiction and non in that 500? I really don’t know.

Help me out here. What do you think? How do you interpret the 500 words a day thing?

*=(Of course, I’ll be upping that goal for next year either way.)



  1. Hillary » Script Frenzy Round-Up: Charts, graphs, feedback & final thoughts - [...] how I got a little underwater for a bit on the middle there. Also, that I’m still a total…
  2. Hillary » NaNoWriMo 2011 debriefed - [...] remember last year’s lament about binge writing? I actually wrote almost every single day this November and didn’t have…
  3. Looking back on 5 years of writing goals - Hillary DePiano - […] prove that no matter how much better I’ve gotten about writing regularly, I really do still binge write like…

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Hillary DePiano is a playwright, fiction and non-fiction writer who loves writing of all kinds except for writing bios like this.


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