Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Downside of NaNoWriMo

I love NaNoWriMo- it's something I really want to keep doing for as many years as I possibly can because it does the wonderful job of forcing me to write. I'm one of those people who stresses over whether others will like what I'm composing, and whether or not I actually plan to show to someone or not, I cut and paste to make it what I deem "presentable."

But there is a downside to this awesome program and that is this: WORD COUNT.

The 50,000 word minimum requirement to win is a great goal, because that's a LOT of words to string together in a month. But the thing is, what you need to win is just 50,000 words- not 50,000 good words or even 50,000 coherant words. Just that many words and... CONGRATS! You could literally write "I am not actually writing a story here" and paste that into a document until it reached that magical number and you'd get that "WOW!" e-mail.

Now, most- and probably all- of the writers who participate in NaNoWriMo do not do this, since those who do the pasting thing wouldn't really try a thing like NaNo. But my point is that it's all about the word count. It doesn't matter if you write the best short story that's ever been seen- if it's not 50,000 words, you can't say you've (officially) won NaNo.

It bothers me because now, when I work on my novel, it's still partially about word count to me, and it shouldn't be anymore. That was one benefit of the amount of by-hand writing I did during NaNo; when I did that, I was merely creating, having no word counter on the bottom left of my screen to track my progress.

So as I work on my novel edits, I find myself glancing down at the number down in the corner each time I add or subtract a word. I want to get out of the mindset that 50,000+ equals success and less equals failure. I want quality not quantity... but try telling that to my subconcious and my drifting eyes!

As of now, my edited novel is 49, 190 words (I deleted a ton from my "final" November draft- more than 1,500 of that is a scene that I wrote recently). That's not even really a novel... it's a novella. But it's getting better in quality than those 50,223 words I ended with. One day, I hope that will mean more to me than hitting a certain number of words.

IN OTHER NEWS... I am filled with glee over the fact that my paycheques actually include well over $100 and that I get them on a regular basis (humor me... I am an actor. And the one "real" [though technically still "acting"] job that I've had paid me $40 a day even if I worked 12 hours.) With some of these funds, I am aiming to buy a writing program for my computer. I really like Scrivener, which I could have gotten for free from NaNoWriMo... but I am a PC person, so no go. I've been looking at a few, but I'd like your suggestions. What writing program do you use/dream about using? It can't be too, too expensive (I'd set my limit at $50), since I could find out after I buy it that I'm not a writing program person, but I would like something of quality. Leave suggestions in the comments, please!


  1. You display your word count while you're writing?
    I would be sweating storms and straining my eyes from glancing down so much. Have you tried going to settings and turning that feature off?

  2. Yes, I do, though not by choice. I didn't know it was an option to turn it off. I'll definitely have to check that out!