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day 2: stressed out already

I'm having a problem with this novel writing thing.

After going through the forums at NaNoWriMo, I was discouraged to see how many people were more obsessed with word counts than with the finished product. There are some writers who list ways to make your word count higher, like using hyphens and making your chapter titles longer than necessary.

My goal here is to write something I love and, hopefully, something that is publishable. I won't be suicidal if I don't reach the 50,000 words by the end of November as long as I am satisfied with what I have written thus far.

I keep going back and changing words and fixing phrases. My story has changed itself three times and I'm only at 1,556 words - well below what the average should be if I want to make that 50k.

Maybe I'm taking it too seriously.

And I'm glad I decided to post only the first chapter and nothing else until the novel is finished. To the person who sent me the email with a completely edited version of that chapter, fuck you. It's not so much that you took the liberty of editing it, it's the way you ended your email with the big, capitalized note to NOT EMAIL YOU BACK. I thought your editing was off base, by the way, as are most of your long-winded comments on this site. I don't like you. I think you are a pompous windbag. Just so you know.


Write for you. If you make the word count, great, if not be happy with what you have written. And if Mr. Pompous windbag thinks he can do a better job, perhaps he should have joined the contest instead of being a fucktard. :D

As long as it's generally ging in the direction you want, I've always heard the best course is to charge ahead and leave the editing/rewrite for a second, third, etc. pass. IOW, get it all down first; let that be your focus for the month.

honey the whole 50k word minimum thing
has thrown me off from novels
my whole writing life
the longest thing i ever wrote came in about 10,000
ive just resigned myself to write
a book of memoirs
and book of short stories
but you know
some of the best novels
started out as short stories
"white oleander"
is a great example
so just write your story
and write it from your heart
once you have a great short story
you can publish it
and then use that exposure to get someone to believe in you elongating it to a novel
or you can use your short story
as an outline for your novel
i think the novel is to huge a task
another piece of great advice i got
was to write a book of chapters
like a book of short stories
only they all connect
but then again
like i said
i cant write a novel
but my stories get longer every day
10,000 words
hey baby thats 1/5 of the way
keep at it mama

I'm far more concerned with getting the 50k down, because if I try to get it right while I'm writing it, I'll be on the same paragraph all month. I'm fairly sure it actually says "This is about quantity, not quality" in the nano faq somewhere.

But I'm not trying to fake the length either! If I get to 47k and hit a wall, then I'll fake the length.

December is for proofreading.

I second the above. I'm terrible with the re-writing, editing as I go, and it's what's bogged me down on everything I've ever started. So I'm focused on the phrase "quantity not quality" and that's helping. I too will not leap from the ledge if I don't hit the 50k, but barreling full steam ahead is the only way I'm going to get anywhere near it.

And sorry about Mr. Pompous. There's always one, isn't there?

Writing mantra: First get it down, then get it write.

Wordsmith later.

then get it RIGHT, rather.


If all people are going for is a word count, they might as well cut and paste the same sentence over and over and over.

On the other hand, as I understand it, it's okay to write whatever pops into your head more or less, because the longer you write the better it will be anyway.

Mrs. Du Toit seems to have the right of it (no pun intended)--write first so that you have stuff to edit.

(Also, unasked-for editing seems pretty rude.)

Dear Michele,

Acclaimed mystery novelist Lawrence Block offers the following advice:

1. Set a quota for yourself each day. Make it achievable, something like five pages of prose. If, on any given day, you reach it easily, don't be tempted to keep going. That way lies burnout.

2. Begin each day by rereading the previous day's output. Touch it up a little if you must, but avoid structural changes until you know quite definitely both where you're headed and where your major mistakes were.

As for Rossi's suggestion that one might write a book of connected short stories, I've done that. It has its pleasures, especially if the major characters are strongly colored and consistent from first to last. But it's not a guarantee of publishability. A lot of publishers will not consider such a work because it "lacks dramatic unity."

Good luck, dear.

I think everyone has their own reasons for trying NaNo, but as someone pointed out it is about the word count. I think the people who come up with ways to pad things out from the beginning are cheating themselves. It's not that difficult if you just write. Myself, I'm just trying to get in the groove of writing more than a paragraph a day. Yes I'm shooting for 2k words each day, and I don't know if I'll make it to the end or not.

Last year I got half way, I had a full outlined plot, detailed character sheets and a goal. I got so bogged down in the detail and trying to make it just right, that I couldn't get done with it, and it's still sitting unfinished on my hard drive. This year I'm content to write crap, but to finish it. I've got all the time in the world to edit and correct, but I'm making my goal this year to actually finish the story I've started regardless of how shite it is.

Just do what's right for you, if you want to use it to write something great...then do so. Don't let anyone else dictate what your goals are. While it's nice to get critiques and opinions from other people, I think the only one that should matter in the beginning is your own.

Elfchick is right - you should feel free to completely ignore the rules of this contest, unless you don't want to ignore them. If you think you can write 50,000 words in a month without pulling your hair out, and manage to end up with something that's worth editing, then you might want to go for it.

I think the end result when all is said and done ought to be coming up with something good, though. The world has enough factories spewing out prefab crapola...

Miker and Elfchick are correct. You have to decide, Michele. Do you want to win the contest or write a book you can be proud of? It doesn't seem possible to do both. One has to take a backseat, but only you can decide which is more important.

Using a contest concept to apply pressure to yourself to write productively is a good thing, but if it begins to overshadow your basic objectives and goal, it seems pointless.

Mrs DuToit is right about Miker and Elfchick being correct...

It's quantity over quality, to get aspiring novelists over the hurdle of writing their first novel.

I may have a go myself, I firmly believe I can produce prodigious amounts of trash with minimal effort in no time flat.

Gifted and talented wordsmiths like you and Mrs D couldn't write garbage if you tried.

Nah nah.

After my first day of writing yesterday (and getting to a little over 1100 words), I decided to adjust my targets to focusing on one scene of at least 1000 words per day. (But that's just me...If I really wanted to focus on purely the word count, I suppose I could easily turn on the parenthetical phrase engine and crank out some pseudo-Joycean-Faulkneresque crap that nobody but my spouse would bother to read afterwards...)

As a budding author myself, I've never had a problem with word-count since I can sneeze out a couple thousand words at the drop of a hat. But I have rather higher standards than simple quantity, and I know I'm not near as good a writer as I want to be. Word-count may be a semi-meaningful measure of the size and complexity of a written work, but like any simplistic measurement it needs to be accompanied by sound judgement and other less easily metered gauges of the writing in order to be useful. 50k words of crap isn't better than 10k words of crap and is certainly not better than even 100 words of something good.

You should write what you think is good (and what others with opinions you value think is good) and not try to cram it into some accepted mold. Besides which, among successful, professional writers there is a lot of variation, including in word count.

As for general writing advice, I found the SFWA site to be very helpful. Even though they have a SciFi / Fantasy bent, their advice is quite useful and applicable to all writing styles and genres.

I wish I had the time to participate in this. Really I do.

Meanwhile, why are you not publishing your "editor's" email address? He didn't say he didn't want US to email him back. ;)

Write until it's done. You'll know when it's done; you just will. Forget word counts; there didn't used to be any such thing as "the novel" anyway, there were just stories. Then mass printing came along and then some storytellers turned into "authors" and everyone wanted to be like them -- that's the short version of where arbitrary rules governing what a short story is versus a novelette versus a novel. I say throw the rulebook in the garbage and write until you know it's done.

PS: people who email me telling me not to email them back I consider to be begging to be replied to with a 15 MB solid black (using 32 million colors) bitmap image as an attachment.

Michele, what Andrea said. You don't write for word count. You write for story. Revising the first chapter because it didn't feel write was the right thing to do. Telling off your would-be editor was the right thing to do.

Running your final version through a spell-checker will be the right thing to do.

No, I'm not kidding.

Anyway. Good luck. You might actually push me into working on the novel I've had on the back burner for a while.

You want a tip I've found enormously helpful, and one that I got from Robert Aspirin a long time ago at a convention bar while we were talking?

Don't show your writing to people, except for publishers and agents. Show it to people who are in a position to buy it, and who are in a position to offer you advice and changes based on making it salable.
And then don't always take their advice if it's destructive to the novel or story: there's always other publishers.

Easiest way to get stuck in a loop of getting discouraged and disgusted is to show it to readers and then try to make your vision match their feedback: write for you, write to your vision, and write to your ear, eye, and muse. Write to story, plot and dialogue.

Once you have the 1st or 2nd draft where you want it... then show it to people who can give you accurate and constructive technical feedback.

Two cents worth, worth ever penny. ;]

I can't believe some jerk actually did that.

The thing with NaNo is that really, it's just about getting 50,000 words down, good, bad or other. Some people try to make it 50,000 good words, a real work with effort put into it. Some people do their best but just can't pull it off, but they did try, so then they pull all of those desperate count-inflating stunts. And some people just lie because they think it somehow makes them cool that they can write more in less time, allegedly (that guy with 52,000 in the early morning of 11/2? Yeah, right, really believable). Me, I'm going for no filler, but I'm also forcing myself to be more wordy simply because I tend not to be descriptive enough -- it's not about word count, more about having a readable product.

I have no advice. Just want to wish you luck. I look forward to reading it.