Monday, November 9, 2009

Word Count Freakage

This is a guest post by greenconverses.  She is working on a fan fiction novel for NaNo, titled "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Demigod Snatchers."  If you don't mind my saying, she is one of the best for this fandom.  She's fixed my stuff many a time.  I'm really glad we're both doing NaNo, because I wouldn't be able to handle doing it all by my lonesome.  

If at any point, you've found yourself struggling with word count or feeling overwhelmed by the hugeness of the task or despairing over the people who have goals to write 30k a day (and yes, these people exist; I won't link this person because it would probably kill your self-esteem, just like it killed mine), this is the post for you.

(So, she emailed me this over the weekend.  There are some discrepancies over the days, but like I've said before, you're a bunch of smarties.  You can figure it out.)

The other night, I sat down and wrote 1,000 words of a fan fic that had nothing to do with my NaNoWriMo project. I didn’t freak out too much about this temporary lapse into insanity, though, as I had already met my word count goal for the day and I’d been cruising along right on schedule throughout the first week. But it was then I realized something important.
I have not seriously freaked out about my NaNo project once this year.

All right, that’s not exactly saying much, considering it’s only seven days in and I’ll probably be sobbing into my keyboard by Day 20 because I’ll be 10,000 words behind and will have written myself into a plot hole that no amount of infodumping will get me out of, but I’d like to consider it a win. Learning to step back, take a deep breath, and not freak out about what you are (or not) writing is an important step in the NaNo process.

This is my second year competing in NaNoWriMo, and I know that taking the time to do things like homework instead of my project last year sent me into fits of hysterics last year. I remember frantically scibbling in all my notebooks during my classes, trying to squeeze just a few more so I’d be better prepared when I got back to my computer later in the day; I’d hole myself off from my roommate for hours on end so I could get the daily word count; I’d feel guilty when I went to hang out with my friends because I’d constantly be worrying about the 432 words I’d have to write before midnight that night. The constantly worrying didn’t make NaNo fun.

There’s definitely a difference in my attitude this year. For example, after hanging out with some friends last night, I realized I had only written 3 words for the entire day: “Percy sat down.” I took this information in, shrugged indifferently, and then tried to squeak out a couple of hundred more words before midnight instead of doing the Word Count Freak Out.

The main difference this year is that I’m more confident in my ability to write more than 1,666 words a day, so if I get behind, it’s really no big deal. Of course, I might be singing a different tune come November 29, but that’s still 22 days away.

So, my point is, if you’re in the early stages and you’re getting behind, don’t get bummed or do the Word Count Freak Out. If you’re stuck on a part, take some time out to write 1,000 words of Something Completely Different instead of soldiering through just to make the word count for that day. Take a break for a couple of hours and hang out with your friends or family so you can come back, ready to tackle the NaNo challenge with enthusiasm. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t make the word count for the day – there’s always tomorrow.

NaNoWriMo shouldn’t be about the freak out; it should be about having fun. And if having fun means watching TV for a couple hours before buckling down and writing, then go ahead and go it.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! But what if freaking out is part of the fun? ;) (Or maybe I'm just slightly masochistic.)

    Thanks for putting things in perspective!