word counts

NaNoWriMo Writing Tips: Last Day

Woman triumphant at sunriseYou never thought the day would come, did you, but it is here. This is the last day, the last few hours, minutes, and this year’s NaNoWriMo event is over.

Here are some last tips for this year’s event.

Verify: The first thing you need to do this morning is verify your word count. This is critical. While your word tracker maybe telling you that you are at 51,245, NaNoWriMo’s official word count verifier may count words differently and come up with 49,394. Check it to confirm how close or over you are to meet your goals.

If you are over and do not wish to copy and paste your manuscript into NaNoWriMo’s official word count verifier, then use one of the alternative methods with a random text generator.

Be a Winner: Submit your word count for the day to NaNoWriMo’s tracker, verify it, then check all the great prizes you win as a winner of NaNoWriMo.

Backup everything. You should be keeping backups all along the way, but take a moment now as you’ve reached the 50K goal to backup, backup, backup.

Tell All: Let the world know that you won NaNoWriMo. Even if you didn’t, whatever you did is more than you would have done otherwise, so celebrate that with friends, family, and social media networks.

Relax, but not too much: Drink a ton of water, go to bed and catch up on the sleep you missed, and wake up the next morning to continue writing or to start editing your fantastic and creative work.

Write up lessons learned: It was only 30 days out of your life, but many lessons, life lessons, writing lessons, creative lessons, psychological lessons, physical lessons, all types of lessons were faced and learned. Even if you have been keeping track, take time to write them down now. Whatever got in your way during November gets in your way throughout the year. Whatever struggles you faced with your writing, these are the things you need to learn more about and work on this year to improve your writing skills. Don’t wait on this list. Use it to make a plan going forward, and to keep you on track through the next 11 months.

Be proud: Not everyone makes it through NaNoWriMo, but everyone who makes the attempt is a winner. It means that even for a short while, they made writing a priority. Congrats!

You can find more writing tips, NaNoWriMo prompts, and writing tips for NaNoWriMo on our Writers in the Grove site.

NaNoWriMo Preparation: Word Trackers

During NaNoWriMo, it is important that you track your word count or time as part of the self-discipline and goal-setting aspect of the month-long event. There are many tools available to help you keep track of your daily goals, adding up to the hopeful 50,000 words or 30 hours, goals we’ve set for participating members of Writers in the Grove.

When tracking your word count with NaNoWriMo, just remember you always enter the total of the words so far, not the total for the day’s word count, to their calculator. Their system will calculate the increase from the previous day for you so you don’t need the specific word count unless you are monitoring the daily word count for your own needs.

How to Find Word Counts

Tracking your writing time is easy. Just check the clock or watch, or set a stop watch or use the one on your smartphone.

Counting words should be easy, but some programs make it a little complicated. The key issue is that these word count calculations are based upon the entire document, not the words you wrote during that day’s session(s).

For NaNoWriMo’s word counter, this is idea, but if you wish to track your own word count daily, you need to determine how many words you wrote that day. Once you enter the number into NaNoWriMo’s word counter, it will estimate the daily total based upon the new total word count subtracted from the previous total word count. Sometimes you skip a day and total the two days together before entering it onto the website, or wish to calculate it daily, so the following will help you find your word counts, be it a total or for the day.

If you are not using Scrivener, there are two options for finding your daily word count.

  • Create, write, and save one file per day. You may merge them later, but it makes keeping the word count easier. Note the word count in the file before you save it and close it. It will represent a good estimate of the words in that document.
  • Write in one file. At the end of each writing session, note the total word count. Subtract the previous session count from the new total to determine an estimate of the words produced during that session.

Some programs will allow you to select what you’ve written and right click to report the word count for that selected block.

Let’s look at the specifics for finding the word count for Word, WordPerfect, and Scrivener. (more…)

Writing Tips: Kill Your Darlings and Make Writing a Habit

Marelisa of Daring to Live Fully brought us “57 Tips For Writers, From Writers,” a fantastic series of tips from some of the most famous writers.

From Stephen King’s book, On Writing, she references this bit of wisdom for writers.

Mostly when I think of pacing, I go back to Elmore Leonard, who explained it so perfectly by saying he just left out the boring parts. This suggests cutting to speed the pace, and that’s what most of us end up having to do (kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings)…I got a scribbled comment that changed the way I rewrote my fiction once and forever. Jotted below the machine-generated signature of the editor was this mot: “Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.

From John Grisham, she shares this:

He goes on to say that at first you have to treat writing as a hobby; you write a page a day in your spare time. Grisham explains that he created spare time to write, although he had a full time job. He adds that he always tells young aspiring writers that if they’re not writing a page a day, then nothing is going to happen. But if they make sure to write a page a day it becomes a habit, and before long they have a lot of pages piled up.

For those of us considering writing full time, these are wise words.