Nanowrimo: Make the Wordcount Count

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Points: Making the word count count (or some other title. I’m not attached to this one)

Nanowrimo 2018 I was approached by the organization to write a blog post for them. I was pretty stoked. I love Nanowrimo. I've donated to them every year I could. I've participated every year since 2009 when I took that semester off and burned myself out blazing to 50k words in three weeks. But they ended up not using my post. *sad face*

But that's okay, I'll share it here!

When your life isn’t crazy enough, just add a dash of Nanowrimo et voila, insanity ensues.

It’s the funnest insanity by a country mile. Hm, what’s something less cliché than ‘country mile’?

Who knows? Don’t care. Must keep writing. Get that word count in. Get those thoughts out.

Post on social media how many words you’re up to.

Join word wars to beat your friends in a frenzy of word count building.

Do word sprints to run along side other writers in mounting those word counts.

Every spare second is filled with thoughts of adding to your piling word count.


*record scratch*

Wait a minute, boys and girls, we’re not there yet.

The best way to blaze through the word count frenzy is to have an idea of where you’re headed.

There are countless ways to do that. I want you to release all the tension and anxiety you have about not doing it right. If you’re goal is to write, the wrongest thing you could do is not write. But at the same time, if you’re unable to let the anxiety go, that’s okay, too. We’re going to take a breath and keep moving forward.

Make thirty points on a sheet of paper or word doc. Fill in each point with beats of the story you want to hit—with inciting incidents, chance meetings, reactions, bits of dialogue, action, etc.

Bonus level: Next to each point give an approximation of how many words this will take up. Don’t worry about hitting this number precisely.

The following is an example of what this might look like:

1. Florence is walking to work, per usual. Takes a different way down an alleyway. Trips avoiding a stray cat purring around her ankles and skins her knee. Cat sits and watches her. Dusts herself off but her knee is banged up and stinging as she reaches her office building. As she pulls the lobby door open…(300 words)

2. She wakes up. It’s the same morning before she tripped in the alleyway. Her alarm hasn’t gone off yet. She feels the pain of her knee and sees its skinned. (300 words)

3. At work co-worker comes to her desk and they talk for a minute. Co-worker walks off. Less than a second later same co-worker comes from different direction than where she walked off towards wearing different clothes. Says same thing to Florence as the first time. Florence cuts her off and mentions it. Co-worker acts like Florence is crazy.

4. Florence feels crazy. (3&4 1000 words)

5. Florence takes the train to a date. After ten minutes it’s announced that she’s arrived at her destination. She’s confused because it usually takes 45 minutes to get there. Exiting train, sees same cat tripped over—on the platform staring at her. (600 words)




17. Florence goes through portal. Sees amazing stuff in new dimension




26. Florence and Steve are hopping through dimensions with the portable sci-schism they stole from Dr. Dillion, chased by the multi-dimensional police. (1700 words)

You can give a lot of details or be quite vague. You can consider conflict, plot twists, character traits, your first point can be ‘introduce main character’. Don’t feel limited by what a point has to be. It can be anything. And it doesn’t even have to be thirty. Thirty is merely a suggestion for thinking about the things you want to introduce or hit on while in the stupor of your November writing frenzy. It could be ten points; it could be a hundred points. But the main point is to help eliminate some of the thinking required during writing sessions so that word count mania has some oomph behind it, some meat to build that story and hit that goal day after day.

Jeannette Spohn Bio

Jeannette is a full-time editor with Polar Bear Editing. She likes sprinkles, unicorns, and doom. She has two sons, one husband, and to her bitter sadness, no pets. Ice water is her favorite drink and Tiffany blue is her favorite color. Find her on twitter where she spends way way too much time @polar_bear_edit. You can also visit her website where there’s a palette of her favorite colors, cute cartoon animals, and more writing advice:

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