Monday, December 5, 2011

What's Your Wordcount?

The most immediately obvious thing about the month of Nanowrimo is that it's a goal. A very rigid, very tight goal. Write. Write every day, and write a certain number of words a day, or else. As a writer I think Nanowrimo should be every day. If we pushed ourselves as hard the rest of the year as we did during November, imagine what could get done. Imagine the discipline and devotion we would learn. Imagine all the procrastination we could accomplish.

At midnight, on November 29, I hit 50,000 words. I woke up November 30th and wrote another 800, neatly finished my short story series. I spent the rest of the day cheering my friends on as they crossed the finish line, sometimes at the very last moment. Watching them write with my goal achieved gave me a curious feeling of detachment. I was suffering from post-Nano disorientation.

Not to worry, a new goal was approaching! Back in October I promised my friends that come December I would begin editing and revising and otherwise making presentable last years Nano: City of Lies. I woke up December 1st and wanted to do anything but. I got a lot done that day. I made paper snowflakes. I wrote people I hadn't talked to in six months. I worked on music related stuff. I chatted. I read. I typed up an old story. I chatted some more. I opened up all my versions of CoL and looked at them without really reading. But my favorite thing that I did all day was count my words.

No, not my Nano words. All my words. Every word I'd ever written. Ever. From boxes and piles in my room and on my desk I drug out all my notebooks. 42 of them, when all was counted. I had blue notebooks, red notebooks, green notebooks, yellow and black notebooks. I had wide ruled and college ruled. I had notebooks with glittery butterflies on them and psychedelic designs. I had hard cover and spiral bound and some with pages falling out from overuse. I drug them all up into the living room and stacked them on my computer chair. And then I counted.

Top Row: 2006-2007; Second Row: 2008; Third Row: 2009; Fourth Row: 2010-2011
I counted words per line, and line per page, and page per notebook. I stacked them according to the page ruling, and whether or not they had more single sided or double sided pages. I wrote out some complicated equations that looked like this: 140x200x14. Then I got out a calculator and started adding up numbers.

They say that you have to write a million words before you're truly a master of your craft. On multiple occasions I've tried to count up my words, but I always tried to count my novels which are in multiple parts of multiple drafts in multiple folders in multiple location. I always ended up bored, distracted, and out of time. Writing fifty thousand words by hand and having to count them without the aid of an electronic word processor taught me an easier way. I have always written by hand, except for my previous two Nanos, which were easy to add up to a single hundred thousand. I dragged out my notebooks and I counted.

I have, since 2006, written 900,000 words.

Anticlimactic, I know. You wanted to hear me say I'd reached 100,000,000. But who's nitpicking here? That's a lot of words! And it means I'm very close to that mythical million. But most of all, I got to spend about an hour counting them and taking pictures, which means I didn't have to go back to my revision project right away. Procrastination always wins, right?


  1. That is the most inspiring picture I've seen in awhile.

    One day I will be cool like you and handwrite a novel.

  2. Congratulations! That's quite an accomplishment. :) You'll be at the million mark in no time. :D

  3. This is awesome Katie! :D

    What Leah and Jay said. :D Someday I'll bring myself to do this!

  4. I (admittedly cheating) wrote 90k in my 2011 NaNo. Adding my previous nanos brings me to ...290k. Not counting journal entries.