Posted by on Nov 25, 2014 in My Writing, On Writing: Craft and Commiseration, Word Count Updates and Writing Goals | 0 comments

My posting schedule is kind of shot to hell this month partly because of NaNoWriMo and partly because there is just so much going on between a dozen productions of The Love of Three Oranges and the two (um, three now, more on that on The Whine Seller tomorrow) new books out this autumn. The real reason I changed the schedule in the first place was because I couldn’t keep up with my old posting volume on The Whine Seller and it seemed stupid to only share two posts a week on social media days apart. In 2015, I intend to go back to Wednesdays and Fridays on The Whine Seller with occasional Mondays and then go back to Tuesdays here with occasional Thursdays.

But I digress. The real reason I’m posting this random Tuesday evening update is because, well, I’ll let the potato tell you…

399,474 words written out of 400,000

I’m a handful of words away from hitting my 2014 goal, one month and five days early. While I originally set the goal of 200,000, I realized pretty quickly I needed to up it by at least another 100k which I did… twice. I mention this not to brag but as an illustration of the fact that I clearly still have no clue whatsoever of how to estimate much I write or how much work I’ll be able to get done and I think that’s sort of a problem. Part of this is that things change so frequently with the little one that I never know how much time I’ll get in a given week. But the other part of it is that my revision process is still such a work in progress itself that I’m terrible at estimating how long a given project will take. I really need to get better at that in the future.

In 2013 I wrote 150,086.  In 2012 I wrote 218,638 words. I wrote 400,248 words in 2011. That is the most I have ever written in a single year in my life and I could beat that number tonight. No matter what happens for the rest of the year, this is one for the record books. I’m not just back to where I was pre-baby, I’m starting to really think maybe the half a million words in a year is within reach again for real.

But before I look ahead, let’s talk about the now.

Winner-2014-Twitter-ProfileAs you probably suspected from this post, I won NaNoWriMo already. Specifically, I passed 50,000 words on November 15th which is the earliest I have ever hit the target (and I actually could have won a few days earlier than that but held back so that I could have the thrill of hitting 50k at a write-in with others instead of alone). Last year I was thrilled that I won a full five days later than that, to give you a point of comparison.

It’s been a hell of a NaNoWriMo. I finished my novel back in the second week and then went on to complete two one-act plays, both of which I’m really excited about, and to write a good chunk of another I would like to finish before the month is out but we’ll see. I also wrote a big chunk of my new non-fiction book and hope to put an even bigger dent in that before the month is out. In short, I’ve been using the motivation and competitive spirit of the month as my own personal First Draft-a-Palooza and I’m loving it. I’m just flying through my writing To Do list of things I meant to write someday and, while I’m leaving myself a massive stack of projects to edit next year, I’m OK with that. Better to have too many things to edit than nothing, I say! I’m also having my highest word count ever for a single month this November which doesn’t hurt! (I’m at just under 80k as I write this.)

I was so busy this month with getting first drafts done that I barely noticed how close I was getting to the yearly goal. And I know that’s how it’s supposed to be. That I somehow reach the point where I’m writing and revising so much that I don’t have to look at the word count and writing will be just such an ingrained habit I’ll do it all the time without worrying about whether I’m doing enough. But what this month really made me realize is that I’m not there yet and I NEED the word count. I need a way to keep score, to gameify writing, to let me compete against myself or I get too caught up in running my company and being a mom/wife/human that I overestimate how much writing I’m actually doing.

I guess what I’m saying is that this system I invented back in 2010 is really working, hiccups and babies aside, and that I have really upped my writing game a ton by really not doing much more than just keeping track of my word count for the year. I know a lot of people poo-poo word count as a measure of writing progress but, for me and the way my mind works, it’s been a godsend.

Anyway, let’s see. If I just add the words I just wrote in this blog post to my spreadsheet…

400,380

Would you look at that? I didn’t just pass 400,000 words for the year, this is now officially my biggest writing year ever and I’ve still got a whole month plus to go! Seems like as good a time as any to take a break for the night and go to bed…