Review of AnNoWriMo: Week One

Out of necessity, I wrote for AnNoWriMo on Saturday and Sunday, originally scheduled as days off. The roughly 3,000 words I wrote over the weekend weren’t enough to catch me up. On this Monday morning, I should be at 10,000 words, twice my current word count.

I’m not worried, though. There are 12 buffer days–Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays (Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving)–remaining in AnNoWriMo.

By Monday, November 16, I would like to be on-target with 20,000 words. My goal for each “work day” would be 2,000 words if I were on-target with the first week’s 10,000 words. To accomplish the second week’s goal, I’ll need to average 3,000 words (roughly equivalent to 12 pages!) each work day or a little over 2,000 words (8.5 pages) each calendar day.

According to my outline, this week will cover scenes already familiar to me. I’ve written a version of some of these scenes before. The others I’ve envisioned enough times that I expect I can write them with little thought. That’s another reason not to worry about being behind on my word count, I guess. The scenes I’ll be writing while catching up won’t be overly difficult.

Of course, I’m fighting the habit to edit as I write. I deleted entire paragraphs before remembering the NaNoWriMo technique of striking out intolerable text to preserve a word count. There are other NaNoWriMo cheats techniques I’m not entirely comfortable using:

  • avoiding contractions (e.g., typing “do not” instead of “don’t”)
  • writing in a wordier style (e.g., “took without first gaining permission that which he would have purchased if he had previously come to possess the money” instead of “he stole”)
  • unnecessarily repeating information (e.g., “She told him not to go. Really, she insisted. ‘Don’t go,’ she insisted. ‘I don’t want you to go.’ He heard that she didn’t want him to go.”)

A high word count simply isn’t worth the risk of developing bad habits. Could you imagine the cleanup this winter if I consistently used the above techniques in AnNoWriMo?


7 thoughts on “Review of AnNoWriMo: Week One”

  1. Good point about developing bad habits while trying to squeeze out a decent word count. I’m sure I’ve unnecessarily repeated, and I’ll beware of wordier styles! Your example gave me a good laugh this morning!

    1. Welcome, Christi Craig!

      There are reasons that justify the use of the above techniques during NaNoWriMo or similar challenges. It’s just that most of us, as regular writers, can do better than use them.

  2. “There are reasons that justify the use of the above techniques during NaNoWriMo …” What?!

    I don’t understand that. How would purposely writing badly just to inflate your word count be at all helpful? What am I missing?

    Why not just write total nonsense, if the only objective is to reach 50,000 words in 30 days? Actually, if you write junk like your examples, you are writing total nonsense.

    1. Imagine…

      ~ You like the idea of writing a novel but wonder what it feels like to actually commit to drafting one. A single month is a small commitment compared to the several months (or years) it takes some of us to create a first draft.

      ~ You’re supporting a friend but don’t actually care for novel writing. Beefing up your word count in a way that looks okay at a glance might keep your friend feeling competitive enough to continue.

      ~ You’re using your “novel” as testing ground for techniques, good and bad, so that you can review them after studying more about writing in December.


      One reason why few NaNoWriMo projects ever see publication is that the writers didn’t care whether or not they ever publish. NaNoWriMo means something different to every participant.

  3. I’m sorry if I insulted you, Ann. I shouldn’t speak out without more knowledge. I truly thought the only purpose to NaNo was to force yourself to write every day and end up with a good start on a novel.

    1. Don’t worry! You didn’t insult me. Actually, I danced in my chair when I read your first comment, because I saw an opportunity to share knowledge.

      Last year, I talked to several other NaNoWriMo participants and even read some of their novels-in-progress. That taught me how varied people’s reasons were for participating.

    2. Ann is right, NaNoWriMo means something different to everyone. I will say, Linda, that last year when I participated, I did join with the hope to have a good start on a novel. I was new to the novel writing process and ready to just get moving on a dream I’d talked about pursuing for years. But,, that’s the novel that’s still sitting in first draft 🙂

      This year my experience has been different. Instead of writing in a stream of consciousness for 30 days, I’m learning more about techniques and development. We’ll see if this “draft” leads to a better rewrite or not.

      And next year, if I decide to participate again…who knows what I might discover!

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