Preparing for NaNoWriMo: Are All Word Counts Created Equal?

Have you ever realized you just spent your whole allotted writing time on one scene?

This can be discouraging, especially if you are trying to write quickly for NaNoWriMo or a similar project.

When you feel like you didn’t accomplish anything, go back and look at your scene.
• Was it something pivotal to the character’s emotional or physical need/desire?
• Did you create higher stakes, or in other words, more serious consequences that will happen if the character doesn’t get her desire/need met? If so, maybe your scene needed that kind of in-depth work.
• Were you agonizing over word use?
• Did you delete more words than you kept?

When you are crafting your first draft, your goal should be to write without letting the editor in your head take too much control. A quick write is a good way to get past the paralyzing need to get every word perfect and instead just put your story on paper.

This is one way to help avoid what author Louise Plummer calls “precious” prose–language that’s overworked to the point where it’s more overdone than a bread loaf brick.

Even given the advantages of writing quickly, sometimes you just need to get a scene right. Maybe there’s a picture in your head you need to capture now, or something your character needs to experience before the book can progress.

If this happens, savor what you write. Even if it’s only a hundred words. Since NaNoWriMo lasts for a whole month, you’ll have plenty of days to recapture your designated word count. Or enjoy whatever you do get done.