Countdown to NaNoWriMo – 3 Days to Go

Yesterday, you got my insightful analysis of a few writing platform options for composing during NaNoWriMo. Hopefully you’ve found a writing system that works for you. With just three days to go, you might be starting to think about how you’ll track your progress and manage your time.

Let’s Talk Goals: Word Count

50,000 words / 30 days = 1,667 words per day. Easy enough. What looks like a simple mathematical formula on November 1st might feel like derivative calculus by the middle of the month. As you’re thinking about your overall goal, I recommend customizing your daily goals to your own personality and situation.

First, if you can get more than the average word count you’ll need in the first few days of November, when you’re running on excitement and espresso, it’s a good idea to do that. Getting ahead gives you some cushion for those inevitable days when things will come up, like your kid has to go to urgent care for an infected splinter or your mom calls out of the blue to ask if you can make the dressing and sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, if you’re in the U.S., you’ll know already that this large family holiday does still occur in November, even when you’re writing. For some of us, that means less time to write because we’re cooking and fending off well-meaning suggestions about our love lives or child rearing from family members. For others, Thanksgiving might mean a break from work or school for a day or even a week, with more time to write than usual. Plan accordingly!

I find it’s helpful to set a word count goal for each day on the calendar, putting more words on some days than others and building in breaks. For me, this works better than the simple average of 1,667. But you might find the consistent daily word goal works better for you. Either way works!

Tracking Your Words

NaNoWriMo has its own built-in progress charts for your novel’s word count, and gives you lots of the desirable positive reinforcement that helps writers keep going and going and… you get the idea. You can even use NaNoWriMo’s project tools at other times of the year. If you associate your project with NaNoWriMo, it will automatically give you a word count goal of 50,000 and a writing window of 11/1-11/30. You can also tell other participants some thing about your story, and link a Pinterest page or playlist.

NaNoWriMo will help you track your progress against the standard goal of 1,667 words per day, which can be a great motivator, especially with the accountability of thousands of other writers typing along. (Full disclosure: while I’ve participated in NaNo several times and completed my 50,000 word goal once, I totally quit logging my words about halfway through — I was working with a group of friends offline, and I found that accountability more compelling!).

I wanted to share some of the other tools I’ve found helpful for keeping up with word counts, goals, and time. These are great in November and the rest of the year, too.

Pacemaker – this simple online program lets you create custom word count goals for any length of time, and adjust for factors like days off, weekends and holidays. It has some fun pre-programmed patterns, and you can even view paces that others have created for inspiration. (When I checked the site while writing this blog, there were already a couple of NaNoWriMo goals set up on the home page!)

And if you want a little extra help from the experts boosting your word count during those times, check out these great resources:

Keep Writing.

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MJ Pullen

M.J. Pullen is a distracted writer and the mom of two boys in Roswell, Georgia, where she is absolutely late for something important right now. Her books include quirky romantic comedies and playful women's fiction. She blogs erratically with writing advice, random observations, and reflections on raising very loud kids and dogs. Join her Distracted Readers newsletter list for updates, free content, giveaways and more.

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