t-17 days: thinking about deadlines

NaNoWriMo starts in seventeen days. That means I've been looking at the calendar, trying to figure out how exactly I can make word count in the shortest amount of time without ruining my health.

In previous years, I've usually managed to finish a few days before 30 November, but that's not the whole story. When I look back on the days I wrote and how many words got set down, it's much more like a flood/drought situation: 9,000 words (or more) on the weekend, maybe 1,000 during the week.

I seem to have deleted my old word count spreadsheets from previous years, but I did find a note from last year (where I got under 1,000 words done for the whole month, ouch!). The projected plan was if I wrote 2,500 words on Fridays, and 5,000 words each day of the weekend, and then another 5,000 on 11 November (because I work somewhere we get Remembrance Day off), then I'd just make it. That must have been a November which was heavy on overtime.

Yeah. I just can't feel bad about missing that one.

There's lots of sprints and other on-line events to get writers ready for November. For me, the best thing has been Friday Flash. Usually I wind up writing my story on Wednesday or Thursday nights. Often I don't have an idea for my story until Wednesday or Thursday night. To work out and write an entire short story, even a flash one, in that amount of time is a lot harder than sustaining a longer one. It also means that writing when I'm tired, sick, busy, etc. isn't as daunting as it used to be.

This year I projected that if I write:
  • 2,000 words per block
  • 1 block each weeknight
  • 2 blocks on weekends, the vacation day I'm taking 1 November, and 11 November
Then I'll be done by 17 November. I doubt that will actually be true, but it's an interesting thought. 2,000 words isn't that much more than the hard average of 1,667 words per day to reach the 50,000 goal, assuming you write every day for the entire month.

All this play with numbers is a good reminder that in the end, it's not the word count, but the story that matters. The word count will get you a web badge and a certificate to print out. The story will get you most of the way through writing a book.