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. 


Start marketing your book as you are writing it

For the last month and a half, my posts have focused on my participation in National Novel Writing Month, which tasks writers to compose 50,000 words to a book within the 30 days of November.  During the month, as WriMo’s (as they are called) write their books, they also converse with “buddies” online, commiserate in forums,  and some even attend local “Write-Ins” in person, where they can write alongside other NaNoWriMo participants. And all of this helps them do something that ALL writers should do — market their book AS they are writing it.

This is good advice regardless of whether you are writing a book in a month, or in a year; and Outskirts Press has recently published a book by one of the best social media marketing authors, Mirtha Michelle Castro Marmol, who uses multiple social media platforms to engage her audience for both her acting career and her writing career.

Author and actress Mirtha Michelle Castro Marmol is perhaps best known for her roles in the “Fast & Furious” franchise and the upcoming film, “AWOL-72.” Her first book of poetry, Letters, To The Men I Have Loved, was released by Outskirts Press in June of 2014 and quickly climbed through the bestseller ranks. In a recent interview with us, Mirtha Michelle credits much of her success to a quality relationship with what she calls her “social media family.” In her own words, here are four simple tips she offers to the newly published author:

  1. Diversify your platform. Mirtha Michelle keeps readers up-to-date on her activities and poetry through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram-a rigorous and diverse digital platform that ensures her words reach as many people as possible. “Social media has helped me get to know my readers and my audience,” she says, and it is important that she reach her readers wherever they are to be found.
  2. Create original content, and regularly. “Two years ago,” Mirtha Michelle tells us, “I just posted about my life a little bit-my outfits, if I went out somewhere exciting, and so on. But after a while, I started posting quotes I liked, and I started to see that social media was an outlet to express myself and show what I was working on.” She began posting more intentionally about her ongoing projects, with the intent of bringing her followers alongside as her work continues to evolve: “I see it as a job, to be honest. I pay close attention to my social media.” She makes a point of posting new and original content several times a week, including artistically and professionally shot photographs of her poetry.
  3. Positivity helps. Mirtha Michelle’s initials make up a personalized hashtag, #MMCM. This hashtag helps her readers connect across social media platforms, and has become a bastion for positivity and healthy relationships. In their comments on her blog, fans often cite her work as instrumental in helping them through difficult times. “I wish I could reply to every single person who writes a comment,” she says, “and I wish I could thank every person.” It can be challenging to keep up with every follower, but Mirtha Michelle goes to great lengths to ensure they know she’s listening: “I try to respond to everyone on Tumblr, because I really, really care.” Readers return to Mirtha Michelle’s blog, and her poetry, again and again-in large part because of her optimism and her genuine interest in their lives.
  4. Be authentic. “Write your heart,” Mirtha Michelle advises. “Imagine you’re meditating with your computer, with words. Really listen to your soul, so you can express what it wants to say.” Even on social media, she tells us, “I don’t try to be anything I’m not.”

Mirtha Michelle’s book, Letters, To The Men I Have Loved, is available through iTunes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the Outskirts Press Direct bookstore.

My NaNoWriMo stats for yesterday, November 5, 2014:

Average Per Day 1833
Words Written Today 2371
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 9165
Words Remaining 40,835
Current Day 5
Days Remaining 26
At this rate, you’ll finish November 28
Words/Day to finish on time 1,571

Writing a book requires the “writing” part

That headline is a head-scratcher, isn’t it? I mean, of COURSE writing a book requires the “writing” part, but that must be little-kn0wn fact if you’re to read many of the emails and “words of encouragement” being distributed by NaNoWriMo; and they’ve been doing this long enough to have some meaningful statistics.  They must know that the percentage of people who participate in NaNoWriMo each year is drastically different from the number of participants who win NaNoWriMo each year (and by “win” they mean writing 50,000 words in 30 days).

We experience the same phenomenon at Outskirts Press. We offer a free “Author’s Center“, which includes three free e-books, to whomever wants to sign-up without obligation.  Of course, since we are a business, we do that in the hopes that someday, those writers will be ready to publish a book and they will value all the free information and encouragement we have sent them over the months (or years), and choose Outskirts Press for their publishing and marketing needs.  But just like NaNoWriMo, we have more sign-ups than publishing authors.  I think almost everyone likes the idea of writing a book, but actually doing it requires commitment and discipline — something NaNoWriMo makes no secret of tackling head-on.

In order to write 50,000 words in 30 days, I’ve encouraged all the participants to at least write “something” every day. In fact, I’ve been more specific and encouraged everyone to write at least 1,000 words.

Well, yesterday, I was unable to do that.  I knew it was going to be a hard day to write (because it was election day), and I was only able to produce 827 new words to my novel, Idle Hands.   So I thought it would be interesting to compare my Day 3 Stats with my Day 4 Stats in order to see the exact affect it has on daily averages when you don’t produce at least 1000 words a day.

First, these Day 3 stats again, which are a repeat from yesterday.

Average Per Day 1989
Words Written Today 1459
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 5967
Words Remaining 44,033
Current Day 3
Days Remaining 28
At this rate, you’ll finish November 26
Words/Day to finish on time 1,573

And now the new Day 4 Stats, incorporating 827 new words (by the way, am I the only one that experiences 404 Not Found “crashing” errors on the NaNoWriMo site when updating my word count from the top menu bar?)

Average Per Day 1698
Words Written Today 827
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 6794
Words Remaining 43,206
Current Day 4
Days Remaining 27
At this rate, you’ll finish November 30
Words/Day to finish on time 1,601

The most telling statistics are the last two. The “At this rate, you’ll finish” date changed from November 26th to November 30th (from 4 days early to just-in-the-nick-of-time), and the word requirement per day also increased by 28 words. Now I have to write more each day AND I’m still scheduled to finish 4 days later than I was! Ouch!  Talk about a double-whammy!

THAT’s the danger of writing a low word count in a day. Imagine skipping a day entirely!

I know I was going to write about one of our recent Outskirts Press authors who has done an amazing job leveraging social media for success, but this low word count day offered a good opportunity to do a comparison, so I’ll do that other posting tomorrow (and hopefully I’ll write way more tomorrow, too!).



5 things I’ve learned after 2 Days of NaNoWriMo

We’re on Day 3 of National Novel Writing Month.  How are my Mentorees holding up?  Have you received your third “Writing Badge” yet (for passing 5,000 words)?  I haven’t.  After two days I’m about 500 words short of that first 5,000 word milestone. But, I did earn my 2nd “Writing Badge” on Day 1 after entering my first day’s total.  And presuming I write an acceptable amount of words today, I’ll earn that third Writing Badge today (for reaching 5,000 words).  Hopefully a lot of my buddies join me.  In fact, if you want to be my “Buddy” on NaNoWriMo, just find my Forum Posting under “Mentors Looking for Newbies” and click on my username Outskirts_Press_Brent and then add me as a buddy. I’ll add you, as well, and that way, you’ll be able to see my Novel Stats through the month.  Hopefully the goal of writing more than I do inspires and motivates you toward great success this November.

And that brings me to the 5 things I have learned so far, after just 2 days of participating in National Novel Writing Month:

1) Publicize your goals and your efforts — It’s much harder to “quit” if other people know what you’re trying to do.  If you’re writing in a vacuum and you are the only person aware of your NaNoWriMo participation, it’s going to be easy to call it quits when those word count totals just aren’t what they should be. But by adding “Buddies” to your NaNoWriMo profile, or by posting your goals on Facebook or Twitter or your own website, you increase the chances of your success because your buddies, friends, followers, or visitors will be watching.  Even if they’re strangers, allow them to hold you accountable for your success.

2) Waking up early in the morning with the idea of “getting some writing done” isn’t going to work for me.  With the sun still far below the horizon, and unable to fall back to sleep with thoughts of NaNoWriMo swirling in my head, I decided it would be time best spent to crawl out of bed early and hit the book running.  So that’s what I did on November 1. But two paragraphs in, my lovely son interrupted me, and I always choose him over the computer, so I had to save my progress and plan to come back to it later.  That was probably harder than waiting until I KNEW I had some uninterrupted time available.

3)  This is closely related to the previous paragraph.  Being interrupted in the middle of writing and then being tasked with the idea of having to return back to it later in the day is much harder (at least for me) than just plowing through.  On November 1 I had to return back to my book a few hours later, and it took precious time to get the gears grinding again.  I knocked out the numbers on Day 2 all in one fell swoop and not only did I write MORE, but I wrote more confidently, and more quickly. All good things when the clock is constantly ticking.

4) Save each day’s work as its own file.  This holds two advantages. A) You don’t run the risk of losing your ENTIRE book if your file corrupts unexpectedly.  B) You don’t run the risk of reading your previous day’s work over and over, which takes time away from what you SHOULD be doing (writing).  On the other hand, there are two downsides: A) Each day you need to add up your own word count before entering it into NaNoWriMo, because their “stat machine” simply wants a cumulative total. B) During the “confirmation” stage when you apparently need to upload your book to the NaNoWriMo website for word-count verification you will need to combine your documents in one single file. But that 30-part cut-n-paste exercise seems like a small price to pay to keep me from re-reading my first page over and over again (which is something I’m apt to do otherwise).

5) Being a fast typist helps.  A few days ago I posted a link to an online touch typing webpage which taxed you with copying a written paragraph into a box as quickly as you could.  I registered a words-per-minute rating of 81, with 1 mistake (including the time it took for me to move my hand to the mouse to click the “Start” button).   When I posted those results on my Facebook page with a challenge to my Facebook friends to beat me, of course my wonderful (and competitive) Outskirts Press EVP, Kelly, raised the bar to 83 words per minute with 2 mistakes at http://fastfingers.com — So naturally I had to give that different website a try. The good news was, it didn’t require me to take time away from typing to click the “Start” button. So my first attempt rated a 95 words-per-minute rating, but with 5 mistakes. Too many in my book, so I tried it again and earned a 94 WPM time with 3 mistakes, which the site makes easy to post to your Facebook page.   Logistically speaking, typing quicker makes it easier to get the required words on the paper. But more importantly, having a writing buddy (Kelly is participating in NaNoWriMo, also), especially an equally competitive one, increases the chances that BOTH writers will succeed, simply because neither writer wants to fail.  If you don’t have a writing buddy on NaNoWriMo, find one.

Or review my stats and compete against me. Here are my DAILY STATS for November 2, 2014:

Average Per Day 2254
Words Written Today 2316
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 4508
Words Remaining 45,492
Current Day 2
Days Remaining 29
At this rate, you’ll finish November 23
Words/Day to finish on time 1,569