And words to go before I sleep

November 15.  Exactly halfway through the month. At least fifty thousand words are the target for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) November event, “Write a novel in a month.”  Thirty-two thousand words are behind me, sixty-four percent.  The total collective word count for all the participating writers is 1,532,271,964.  Time for a toast.

Before anyone (especially me) gets too impressed, I need to put all those words I’ve written in perspective.  What happens is that after writing fifteen or twenty thousand words, I’ve forgotten a few key details.  Yesterday I wrote a scene with one of my main characters, but every time I wrote his first name — Dan — it bothered me.  Why had I originally chosen this name for him?  It didn’t fit well with his last name or his personality, but the first rule of NaNoWriMo is not to go back and edit; I just kept moving forward.  Last night before I fell asleep I remembered that Dan wasn’t the character’s name in early scenes.  Ray was the first name I chose for him. The result is that in three scenes this guy is Ray and in two he’s Dan.  He also changed his hairstyle.

One slip-up isn’t serious, but multiply this by at least ten (the reality is probably worse than this), and you’ve got the same person simultaneously in two different cities (keep in mind that I’m not trying to write sci-fi or fantasy), walking a dog, milking a cow, and speaking two different languages.

For these and more serious mistakes I suspect I’ll have to throw out many of my 50,000 words.  In fact, when I finished today’s scene it occurred to me that it could all be a pile of crap. But now that doesn’t matter.  As challenging as keeping up the pace is, I’m already wondering what I will do once the novel-writing event is over.  How will I fill my days?  Of course I’ll keep working on the book, but I actually find this daily two thousand word effort as meaningful — with a deadline — as anything I’ve done since I retired.

About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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11 Responses to And words to go before I sleep

  1. Sharon says:

    Ann, I admire how you do this but began to wonder how one counts words – do articles count, is this done electronically or is there some basic yardstick? I’m so old-fashioned I tend to think in terms of written pages, is there a number of pages that would equal 2000 words a day?

  2. Debi says:

    Ann, Bravo – I wish I was writing just two sentences a night! Tonight, I do remember an exercise that I found exciting. Not exciting to do but exciting to read afterwards. After writing each sentence you must begin the next sentence with the last word (or close to it). It inspires me to begin writing that journal again. Again, Bravo!

  3. Claudia says:

    How about writting a novel in Spanish! That will fill your days! We can start lessons anytime:-)

  4. Maggie L R says:

    I applaud you, you are ahead of schedule. I had to abandon my NaNo this year. I was asked to do a presentation this Sunday and had to do a lot of prep. for that as well as my photography classes. Oh well next time. Good for you though, well done.

  5. tableau says:

    hi, that’s a prissy transfer. There is some mistakes but the main is here.

  6. Nice post!
    I cant share this link :
    Am i doing it wrong ?

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