NaNo What Now?

Finding your editing process, revising your NaNoWriMo book and building a writing career through publishing and beyond

Building a Writing Life

start a writing habit, find time to write, discover your process and commit to your writing dreams Non-Fiction

My 2012 Pledge: To write 500,000 words this year (Again.)

by Jan 1, 2012Asplode, Mistress Novel, On Writing: Craft and Commiseration, The Muppet Play, TheLibrary, Wife Novel0 comments

Last year, I took an in depth look into my writing habits (see Looking back on past writing goals and tweaking them for the future) and, without repeating myself, I think my tweaks were good. I passed 400,000 words for the year late on 12/30 which was later than I’d hoped to but still pretty good. Though I struggled to meet it this year, I’m going to keep the 500,000 word goal for next year for two reasons:

  1. I really was only 100k off from meeting it this year which is close enough to make me want to shoot for it again
  2. Adding 100k to what I actually wrote this year seems a good amount to keep pushing myself
  3. Even if I don’t hit it, it will push me to write more while trying to reach it like it did this year
  4. There’s a random extra bonus day this year because of the leap year! 🙂

I was a bit more OCD about keeping track of my writing progress this year with not only a chart that details what percentage of my writing time was spent on which project but also how my daily writing habits stacked up. One thing that becomes immediately obvious is that not writing in February while in vacation did some serious damage. Another thing I thought was amusing was that, for all my yammering on about “Where there’s a will, there’s a May!” like a dork, May came second only to November when it came to total words written. The lesson here is that, when I motivate myself with silly challenges (even ones I made up for my own amusement) I really do get more writing done.

I’m very pleased with what I accomplished last year and I got to cross several big projects off the list. But, at the same time, I’m frustrated by the things I didn’t get a chance to finish. I need to figure out how to modify my goals next year so include not just word volume but something to direct me to finish specific projects by deadlines. This will involve planning. Much planning.

I also think it odd how, while 400,000 is a ton of words, looking back on it, it doesn’t seem like enough. I guess that’s just part of driving yourself… you never really feel satisfied which is what makes you keep going, but the sensation is oddly unsatisfying. I feel like I should have done so much more.

Let me show you how 2011 shaped up in stats:

  • I wrote a total of 400,248 in 2011. That’s 99,752 shy of my 500,000 word goal
  • I averaged 804 words a day in straight writing or rewriting and 18 minutes a day of editing. Averaging editing into the word count, I wrote 1,097 words a day. Over double what I wrote last year, though, so I’m quite pleased about that.
  • Of the writing I did, 73% was new writing while 27% was editing. Not a terrible breakdown.

As I was writing those stats out, I noticed something. My secondary goal had been to average about 1,000 words a day and 30 minutes of editing a day. What I didn’t realize until right now is that… that would have been much more than 500,000 words for the year. In fact, a more realistic goal for 1,000 words a day of new writing would have been 15 minutes a day… which I passed for editing and nearly hit for writing. The lesson here is that even an insane writing stats keeper like myself can lose sight of the realism of my goals.

What does that 400k plus represent? Let me break it down for you. (Not familiar with my project nicknames?)

Some of these works in progress I’ve never even mentioned here before so don’t be confused if they aren’t on the projects list yet. I always have more than a few irons in the fire at once. But the fact that Mistress Novel and Asplode were tied on how much I worked on them this year? That seems insane to me since one is a polished finished project and the other is a wreck beyond all reason. And if you’d asked me which play was taking up more of my time this year, I would have told you it was The Muppet Play and yet… in reality TheLibrary got much more attention. This makes me wish I’d been keeping stats like this all along because it’s very telling and shows a fascinating breakdown of how I spent my writing time this year.

Speaking of my writing time, take a look at this:

It’s a little hard to see that little but fee free to click it to make it bigger. The yellow line represents where I’d need to be to hit my 500k goal while the orange line is 1000 words a day. Slow and steady is still not my style but there is much less binge writing followed by dry periods. And while there are some serious dips, I stay mostly in the middle of the two lines.

Overall, things keep moving up and onward which seems like a good thing because it means I’ve improved my writing habits.

I’m almost embarrassed to show you this next chart…

How pathetic is Feb? Sept, Oct and Dec aren’t helping either. But the lesson I take away from this is that I need to plan better next year. Obviously some months are much busier than others… I need to stockpile words over the summer to be able to stay on pace through the busy fall. Make no mistake, if Nov wasn’t NaNoWriMo, it would have been just as small as its neighbors. The good thing about this chart is that at least now I know where I get myself in trouble and can work around that.

So that was my 2011. And as satisfying as it is to look back over what I accomplished this year, the reality of the situation is that, as of midnight last night, all that matters was this picture of my 2012 writing progress:

Oh brother… I better get to work…



  1. Hillary - [...] it. I started to write the play (you’ll have noticed “Holiday Play” was on the list of projects I…

Leave a Reply

About the Author

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

Books and Plays by Hillary DePiano


Join my mailing list!

Join my mailing list!

Get the news before anyone else and have the first crack at premieres, sales and other opportunities! 

You have Successfully Subscribed!

%d bloggers like this: