Do you keep track of your writing progress?
Camp NaNoWriMo — any NaNoWriMo, really — gives us more encouragement than other months to track our writing progress. I participated in the July Camp NaNo session with a goal of 50k, which I hit on July 21st.
How I achieved my goals this month
Despite scheduling my writing time in 30 minute blocks, I use a spreadsheet (you can get your own from Jamie Raintree) to track my word count for the month. As you can see below, it gives me a good overview of how I’m doing on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
I rarely spent more than two hours a day writing to achieve these word counts (and I’m pretty terrible at writing on the weekends). Here are a few reasons for the high word count in so little time:
- I’m fast drafting, which means I’m not concerned with anything more than getting the story down (I’ll have plenty to edit, as it’s a cross between a detailed outline and a first draft).
- I planned my story with detailed scene summaries, so I always know where my story is headed.
- I’m a fast typer. My wpm average for story creation is in the low 40s. My record is 1,433 words in 30 minutes (or 47 wpm).
Those reasons, in depth
Your mileage — or word count — may vary depending on your writing style and typing speed. I spend a lot of time in revisions, so this month was about learning to not sweat the little decisions — if I ran into a trouble spot, I wrote a note and continued.
That tactic was incredibly freeing. Instead of agonizing over word choice or descriptions, I glossed over it and kept writing. During revisions, I’ll build a book and series bible of character and setting descriptions for consistency as I fill those in.
I also have a nine-page, 5,572 word scene summary that I use to guide my writing. This allows me to work through story issues before I write, which means I spend less time plotting and more time writing during my writing blocks.
What I learned about my writing process
It’s important to note that this is my process — a process I’m still developing and tweaking. Will this writing process work for you? I don’t know. There’s a lot tied into what works for you, so the best strategy is to experiment until you find what works.
But I’m a planner by nature, so devoting time to plotting before I sit down to write has increased my efficiency and confidence. Here’s a secret, though: it’s still tough and frustrating to work through story ideas and build a plot. I just want to get to writing.
Curbing that desire isn’t easy — I still avoid plotting more days than not — but it’s worth the effort, in the end. Good writing habits require training, and I’m learning to train myself to plan and plot before I get to writing. That, I think, will be my August goal, and I can share my results at the end of the month.
One final note
Although I reached my goal in July, I had — what felt like to me, though looking at the numbers, it’s perhaps not as obvious — a drop in productivity once I reached 50k (everything after July 21st). I lost motivation, and I’m still working on figuring out the reason why.
Because I reached my goal and couldn’t increase it on NaNo’s site? Because I wrote too hard too fast at the beginning of the month and needed to slow down? Because I was in the mushy middle and hated everything?
Half of the words I’ve written this year (or 62k of 122k) were written in July. While those numbers are great, I’m also reminding myself that going at a breakneck speed without pausing only leads to burnout. I don’t expect to put up the same kind of numbers in August — it’ll be about finding balance.
What are your goals for August? How’d July go for you?