The Journal: NaNoWriMo Approacheth

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Topic: NaNoWriMo Approacheth, Slouching…
* I’m writing again
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“It is the writer that creates a story that will sell … if the writer allows himself to be in the story with the character.” Dean Wesley Smith

Topic: NaNoWriMo Approacheth, Slouching Toward Keyboards Everywhere

Forgive me the following. I’m going to get a little snarky.

In an article in Kobo Writing Life yesterday, the author advised writers to “prepare” for NaNoWriMo. The article suggests writers

1. Plot their outline
2. Do a chapter breakdown
3. Write up some character sketches
4. Do any necessary research, and
5. Do any necessary world building.

They recommend all of this immediately after reminding prospective writers “remember, you can’t write any of your book before November so don’t get too in depth!”

That was where I burst out laughing. I mean, seriously? “Don’t get too in depth?” My “Don’t Cheat” persona says they’re advising folks to write their entire novel before the month even begins, albeit in strictly abbreviated form, then write it again, filling in all the gaps between known quantities, in November. And my I’m Too Lazy To Enjoy Doing The Same Job Twice For No Reason self says they’re advising folks to go through all this extra work just to write a lousy 50,000 words of fiction in a MONTH. (grin)

That being said, just in case this is your thing, I linked to the article in “Of Interest.” So have at it.

But in the meantime, do the math, folks. I mean, there are writers and would-be writers across the nation right now all but hyperventilating because they’re going to attempt to write 50,000 words of fiction in a month.

Given a month of 30 days, that means they have to write (on average) 1667 words per day. That’s two hours of writing time, max. (1000 words per hour equals 17 words per minute. Or one word every 4 seconds.)

But I do understand. Many will say “but I can’t write on Xxxx days.” (What that actually means is “writing is not enough of a priority to me to carve time out for writing on those days.”) But that’s fine.

Even if they take weekends off, that still leaves 21 days in the month, so they’d have to write a more realistic 2381 words per day. So two to three hours of writing time per day. But again, they can only do what they can do.

The author of the article even gives a nod in the direction of those who write into the dark: “[O]f course there are some experienced pantsers out there for whom this does not apply.”

Okay, one, I despise the term “pantsers.” I refuse to accept it until they call those in the other camp “plodders.” But more important is that whole “experienced” thing. Back when I first started “pantsing” (WITD with no experience at all) I was writing 3000 words per day every day. And lo and behold, I didn’t have to slow down to check some stupid outline or character sketch!

Still, again, I included the article below just in case you can’t quite trust yourself enough yet to write into the dark. The article DOES include some good tips for those who want to do double the work, telling the story first in an outline and then in the actual story. And it also contains some other resource links.

But as always, I encourage you to hike up your big-boy britches and take a shot at trusting in your own abilities. Because seriously, beyond the sheer fun of being the first human EVER to hear the story that comes out of your subconscious, storytelling really isn’t a serious prospect. And if you’re a writers, WITD is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

Seriously, if NaNoWriMo is right for you, go for it. If you need the safety net of an outline, write one up. If you need character sketches etc., write those up too.

But while you’re writing, if the story or characters take a direction that isn’t in your outline or doesn’t align with your character sketch, go with the story and adjust the outline or character sketch later. Don’t force the story into an outline that your conscious mind came up with.

And one more thing — each time you return to the writing, read over what you wrote last time. Allow yourself (your characters) to touch it, correcting spelling errors, etc. so that when you’re finished you’ve written a clean draft. And then don’t rewrite. Trust your subconscious voice. Just sayin’.

I’m writing again, and let me just say up front it has nothing to do with NaNoWriMo. (grin)

I wrote an opening for The Ark (a new novel and probably a new series), and to say it took off would be a massive understatement. The thing flew out of my fingers. Wow that feels good. (grin)

How do I know it’s a novel and not just a short story? ‘Cause I wrote a short story just in the first chapter to get the thing started. No possible way will this be about a “single event.” Feels good to be excited again.

Talk with you later.

Of Interest

See “A Lesson…” at Great advice. I hate it when he starts out with something negative like “But few will listen.”

See “NaNoWriMo: Story Prep” at Really, I posted this because it struck me as funny.

See “No, Transient Evidence is Not Evidence Left Behind by Homeless Criminals” at

See “How to Negotiate Your Way Out of a Publishing Contract” at First, hire a lawyer. Second, read this article.

See “Thunder Mountain…” at

See “Maximizing Your Amazon Author Central Page” at

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 960 words

Writing of The Ark (novel)

Day 1…… 3196 words. Total words to date…… 3196

Total fiction words for the month……… 7611
Total fiction words for the year………… 342805
Total nonfiction words for the month… 10950
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 161340
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 504145

Calendar Year 2020 Novels to Date…………………… 5
Calendar Year 2020 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2020 Short Stories to Date… 13
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 50
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 214
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

4 thoughts on “The Journal: NaNoWriMo Approacheth”

  1. “a lousy 50,000 words in a MONTH (grin)”
    Maybe you can be smug when you can actually write 50,000 words of fiction in a month again. When was the last time you did that?
    Maybe November would be a good month to get back on the horse.

    • Wow. Smug? Seriously? I was only showing you the math and joking around a little. But thank you for asking, though I have to question your motive. It’s difficult to make a fool of a man whose writing life is an open book. I had to do a little research, but here you go:

      * The “last time” I wrote 50,000 words in a month was April of this year as I finished my last novel. That month I wrote 71,162 words.
      * I also wrote well over 50,000 words per month EVERY month from December 2019 through April 2020 and many, many times before that.
      * Several times I’ve written well over 100,000 words in a month.
      * In four of the past six years, I wrote over 750,000 words of fiction. That’s an average of 62,500 words per month. (A couple of those years I neared or exceeded 90,000 words.)

      Finally, I also share my successes AND failures openly in this Journal as part of my ongoing effort to help other writers, not to be “smug.” How odd that you can so easily ignore the former while pointing out the latter, especially when both are displayed in an effort to help you.

      The point is, writing 50,000 words in a month isn’t difficult to do. You only have to sit down at the computer and start writing words. So speaking smugly or not, how freaking hard is that?

      Oh, and as regards getting “back on the horse,” I expect to clear 50,000 words in November — well, actually in the 30-day period that began on October 22 when I started my latest novel (my 51st, by the way). But guarantee it won’t be because I’m following the standard guidelines for NaNoWriMo. I’m far too lazy to write sloppy and then go back and “fix” everything.

  2. Steve- I was so surprised by your comment I had to respond. Smug is the last word I would use to describe Harvey. Grateful, hard-working, humble, a good teacher, and a storyteller. Those are words I might use.

    Harvey brings a lot of value to those of us trying to follow a similar path. He’s more than proved he can walk the walk and he helps others while he’s doing it. Personally, I’ve found his insights incredibly valuable. He’s trying to teach/show people how to find joy in telling a story again.

    Whether you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year or not, please consider reading Quiet the Critical Voice (and Write Fiction) by Harvey. It might just change the way you approach writing your novel. It will certainly give you a more accurate understanding of the author.

  3. In response to “Steve, re: ‘smug'”. Years ago, I might have thought writing 50K words in a month would be daunting… but that was years ago. And I’ve never thought of limiting myself to a 50K novel But that’s just me. Perhaps you misspoke, or mis-thought to consider using the word ‘smug’ as a descriptor of Harvey Stanbrough. I’ve known H for over twenty years. Whatever he says, it’s not brag or smug. Like Dizzy Dean is quoted as saying, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it!” In H’s world there is no room for dishonesty nor “having or showing an excessive pride in oneself or one’s achievements” which is the definition of ‘smug’. He demonstrates daily the meaning of teaching, mentoring and informing those interested learning what it is like to be a prolific writer and how he is only an example/role model of a professional writer and what you yourself can accomplish if you apply Heinlein’s Rules (for example) and H’s work ethic.

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