I’m THANKFUL for writing 50,000 words in one month

Happy Thanksgiving.

We’re down to the last few days of National Novel Writing Month. When I began this adventure over a month ago, I set out to earn all the “Participation” and “Writing” badges on the NaNoWriMo website, and one of the Participation Badges required adding “Buddies” to my account, so I could interact with them, and find motivation in their success.  Another Participation Badge required that I post to the forums, which I did, by offering to be a “virtual mentor” for other WriMo’s as they joined me on this writing journey.  In fact, those two badges went hand in hand because as I interacted with WriMo’s I was mentoring, I naturally added them to my Buddy list, so I could watch their progress.

Out of all my “Buddies” on the NaNoWriMo site, two of them are official “Winners” as of yesterday afternoon.  That means they have validated their official word counts with NaNoWriMo and their word count has met or exceeded 50,000 words.

I hope to join them sometime today, by “carving” out time away from the turkey to reach the 50,000 word goal and then validate my word counts.  I have less than 1,500 words to go, so my confidence is high that I’m going to become a NaNoWriMo winner on Thanksgiving day (and hence the headline to this posting — just some extra motivation for yours truly).

Some of my other buddies and mentorees still have some work to do, with word counts ranging from 27,000 – 46,000.  Join me in urging them to cross that finish line with me in the next couple of days!

Here are my NaNoWriMo stats for yesterday, November 26:

Average Per Day 1867
Words Written Today 1642
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 48,545
Words Remaining 1,455
Current Day 26
Days Remaining 5
At this rate, you’ll finish 27-Nov
Words/Day to finish on time 291

Under 20,000 words to go on the novel

If you’ll look at my NaNoWriMo stats for yesterday (posted below), you’ll see that I’ve crossed over 30,000 words written, which leaves less than 20,000 words to go.  So does that mean I only have to write 20,000 more words to finish my book? Well, no. It means I only have 20,000 more words to write in order to “win” National Novel Writing Month (they consider it “winning” if you write 50,000 words in 30 days). Whether or not you actually FINISH your book is not of much consequence to them.

But that seems like a pretty arbitrary goal, doesn’t it?  Writing 50,000 words in 30 days?  So, yes, while I’m on track to write 50,000 words in 30 days (in 28 days, actually), I’m afraid I’m not on track to actually finish the book.  You see, I just got to the point in the plot where Fenderson takes Brad on a road trip to Las Vegas on their way to the port to get on the cruise ship.  If you’ll remember the posting that introduced the original outline for Idle Hands, you’ll see that Las Vegas wasn’t even mentioned, and you’ll see that by November 17th, Fen was supposed to have already killed Jacob.  And, here I am, on day 18 and they haven’t even gotten to the cruise ship yet.

That’s okay, rarely are today’s modern works of fiction only 50,000 words. Idle Hands was always going to be longer.

But the point of this is to realize, for all of us WriMo’s out there, that writing (and finishing) a novel is the real goal, no matter how long it takes. They just put a 50,000 word number on it, and an arbitrary starting and ending date, to put us all on the same page (pun intended).

So if your book is less than 50,000 words and you finish it before the end of the month, start writing a new one. And if your book is going to be longer than 50,000 words, and therefore not finished by November 30, keep on writing, even if you “won” NaNoWriMo.

You don’t publish 50,000 words.  You publish books.

My NaNoWriMo stats for November 17:

Average Per Day 1792
Words Written Today 2236
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 30,473
Words Remaining 19,527
Current Day 17
Days Remaining 14
At this rate, you’ll finish November 28
Words/Day to finish on time 1,395

Daily Stats

Taking a blog day off, but not a day off from writing Idle Hands for National Novel Writing Month.

Here are my stats for November 15, 2014:

Average Per Day 1775
Words Written Today 1508
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 26626
Words Remaining 23,374
Current Day 15
Days Remaining 16
At this rate, you’ll finish November 29
Words/Day to finish on time 1,461

25,000 Words in 15 Days

We are half-way through National Novel Writing Month, where I (and 500,000 other writers) have challenged ourselves to write 50,000 words in 30 days…

So a good bench-mark would be writing 25,000 words in 15 days.

Thanks to an “internal challenge” I had with a couple of my “mentorees” through the NaNoWriMo site, where we challenged each other to reach 25,000 by Friday, I’m happy to report that I earned my 25,000 Writing Badge yesterday. Woo-hoo!


Here’s a graphic showing the four main statistics from the NaNoWriMo site. In the upper left-hand corner are the Participation Badges (completed) and the Writing Badges, displaying my latest accomplishment of 25,000 words.  The next Writing Badge to earn is by validating my word count, but I can’t do that yet, because I’m not at 50,000 words.

In the upper right-hand corner is my daily stats in bar graph form imposed against an average line chart for where I need to be to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’m basically right on schedule.

In the lower left-hand corner are all the statistics I’ve been reporting on daily through this blog; this is how they appear on the NaNoWriMo site.  What a red-letter day! The number of words I have written exceeds the number of words remaining.  And, finally, I’m tracking to finish ahead of schedule again (although Thanksgiving is bound to put a damper on that, so if I was ambitious, I’d aim to be at 50,000 words by the 26th.) Don’t want to get tripped up by tryptophan!

In the lower right-hand corner are the bar graphs displaying the cummulative word-count totals of all the NaNoWriMo participants in the Denver area.  14 million words and counting!

I wonder where all those people are going to publish their books?  I know where I would suggest, but then again, I’m biased.

We’re on the downhill slope, fellow WriMo’s.

The power of motivation

For the past 12 days I have been actively participating in National Novel Writing Month (along with some 500,000 of my fellow writers). NaNoWriMo, as it is known, challenges people to write 50,000 words to a novel in 30 days.  I’d guess the majority of people who start the process may not successfully cross the 50k finish line, and that’s okay. At least they tried.  But, impressively, many people make the attempt year after year. They keep on plugging along.  As I quoted Ray Bradbury in yesterday’s post, “You fail only if you stop writing.”  That’s not only true for National Novel Writing Month, but it is true EVERY month.  In fact, it’s a good lesson for life in general:  You only fail if you stop writing trying.

What I noticed as I was looking at other WriMo participants’ stats is that those writers who won usually stopped right around 50,000 words. They crossed the finish line, yes, and then promptly stopped writing their books.  Their word counts rarely extended much beyond the 50,000 word requirement.

There are exceptions, of course. One WriMo wrote over 105,000 words in 30 days, but in general, the WriMos I researched who “won” did so by just squeaking past the finish line.

I’m probably going to “squeak” past the finish line, too.  Once I reach 50,000 words, I’ll probably stop.

But should I?  

Should any of the WriMo’s stop at 50,000 words? Should we stop writing on November 30th?  Perhaps National Writing Month is only about cranking out 50,000 words in 30 days; but writing is about something more than that —  it is about establishing a writing routine that is driven by a self-imposed goal (50,000 words) and a self-imposed deadline (November 30).  These goals and milestones may not SEEM self-imposed in November, since NaNoWriMo is “throwing” this worldwide writing party, but the truth is, it IS self-imposed.  There’s no one FORCING you to write 50,000 words in 30 days during NaNoWriMo.  Those of us who are doing it, are doing it for ourselves. To see if we can.

What’s stopping us from doing the same thing in December? And in January? And February?

After all, that’s what a writer would do.  As Richard Bach once said, “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”  Let’s all keep writing, even after NaNoWriMo 2014 comes to a close…


Here are my NaNoWriMo stats for November 11, 2014:

Average Per Day 1776
Words Written Today 2007
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 19545
Words Remaining 30,455
Current Day 11
Days Remaining 20
At this rate, you’ll finish Nov 29
Words/Day to finish on time 1,523


A personal note from the NaNoWriMo director

I realize you don’t donate to National Novel Writing Month for all the “stuff” they send you in acknowledgment of your donation. You donate to NaNoWriMo because it’s a good cause.

But (and this is mostly just because I needed a topic to blog about today) I thought I would take a look back at all the “stuff” I was supposed to receive from NaNoWriMo in appreciation of the donation and see if it has all arrived…

  • The 2013 NaNoWriMo Webinar Double Pack including both donor-only webinars from earlier this year, the Book Doctors’ “Make Editing Fun: How to Enjoy Revision” and Guy Kawasaki’s “The Art of Artisanal Publishing”

I don’t have any idea if I received this or not. I probably did, in the form of some email with links to these webinars, although, I don’t remember receiving anything like that…

  • A coupon good for pie with NaNoWriMo Director of Programs Chris Angotti and Executive Director Grant Faulkner. You have to come to Berkeley to redeem it, but come on—this is good pie. Also, the coupon is fully transferable!

I received this, along with a hand-written card from Grant. Since I doubt I will be in Berkeley, CA prior to the coupon’s expiration date of 12/31/2015, and since this coupon is transferable, the first WriMo who contacts me through the NaNoWriMo site with their California mailing address can have it…

  • An option to have your novel featured online in NaNoWriMo’s Mighty Catalyst Bookstore.

I received this. In fact, they were kind enough to allow me to feature two of my previous books on this bookstore, so I submitted Self-Publishing Simplified and Sell Your Book on Amazon.

  • A year-long print and digital subscription to The Sun, a unique monthly magazine of essays, interviews, short stories, poems, and photographs. Writing from The Sun has won the Pushcart Prize, been featured on National Public Radio, and appeared in Best American Essays and Best American Short Stories!

It’s probably too soon to know if I received this or not, but I hope I don’t. I get enough stuff like this already.

  • The 2014 “Boundless Novel” poster designed by Elizabeth Doyle

I received some sort of rolled up poster in the mail, so I assume it was this…

  • A starry “Halo for Your Wrist”!

Yes, I received this in the mailing tube along with the poster. I think the dog already go to it.

  • A “Novelist’s Little Helpers” sticker set, which includes three (3) 3” by 3” round stickers each instilled with a bit of writer-ly magic to help you reach 50K.

I received these.

  • Your very own magical NaNo Wizard bookmark signed with thanks by our Director of Programs Chris Angotti and Executive Director Grant Faulkner

I received these.

  • A donor halo on your NaNoWriMo author profile


  • A listing on the NaNoWriMo Brought To You By page


  • A coupon code for 30% off plus free shipping from our friends at Chronicle Books

I don’t remember getting this, but perhaps it was in the email along with the webinars…

  • A coupon for a free Structure class from StoryWonk ($10 retail value)

I don’t remember getting this, but perhaps it was in that mysterious missing email, too.

As I said, the main reason to donate to NaNoWriMo isn’t for any of those things. It’s to support a worldwide creative effort.  As Grant Faulkner wrote in his note to me, “the world needs more creators.”  Amen to that…

Here are my NaNoWriMo stats from yesterday, November 7:

Average Per Day 1689
Words Written Today 2179
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 11824
Words Remaining 38,176
Current Day 7
Days Remaining 24
At this rate, you’ll finish 30-Nov
Words/Day to finish on time 1,591

Yay, I passed 10,000 words. Woo-hoo!  And look at that, I’m scheduled to finish exactly on time.  I’d sure like a little more lee-way than that, especially with Thanksgiving approaching, so I should focus on getting a few days ahead!


Lowest word count yet

Wow, yesterday’s word total update for my book, Idle Hands, was the lowest yet. Only 480 words!  I felt positive I was going to earn my 10,000 word Writing Badge yesterday when I started the day with over 9,000 words, but other responsibilities took over and I was “lucky” to contribute any words to the cause.

Sadly, this makes my Stats for November 6 the worst yet. This is the first time the stats are estimating that I finish my book AFTER the November 30th deadline. Ouch.

Average Per Day 1607
Words Written Today 480
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 9645
Words Remaining 40,355
Current Day 6
Days Remaining 25
At this rate, you’ll finish December 2
Words/Day to finish on time 1,615

I better pick it up!  Perhaps a way to do that is to look at my writing buddies for inspiration. At the time I was uploading my sad, sad 480 word count, for a new total of 9645, some of my buddies had word counts ranging from 8710 to 33,322.  And that’s not even including one of my buddies who has ALREADY written over 50,000 words.  I checked her author website and her goal was to write 50,000 words in 5 DAYS!    Now that is impressive, and inspiring.

I also remembered that I’m supposed to add an excerpt of my book to the NaNoWriMo, so I submitted this from chapter one:

      She was beautiful. I had admired her from afar for far too long and now here I was standing right next to her. I hadn’t spoken yet. I was just… taking her in. Her aura. Her curves. Her style. The way she seemed to shine in the light. She was flawless. It may sound crass to say, but I longed to be inside her. (I loved that smell!)  Hearing the noises she made when I pushed her hard and feeling the way she gripped; my mind reeled. She was definitely my fantasy and someday I was going to have her.

      “She’s a beaut, isn’t she?” the Porsche salesman said as he approached from my left.