NaNoWriMo Tip #3 – Write Scenes not Word Counts

Day 3 of NaNoWriMo. ! Hopefully, things are going well. Eventually, maybe today, things will start to come a little less easy. When that happens, it is easy to get discouraged by the seemingly huge task of cranking out 1,600 words (or 2,000 words).

Part of this is just the normal reluctance of the human brain. They say it takes between 20 and 60 days for something to become a habit. Before that happens, the mind wonders if there aren’t better, more important, or dare I say, easier things to be done. Maybe, your brain wants you to time.

Forget Word Count During NaNoWriMo

The entire premise of NaNoWriMo is to crank out a 50,000 word FIRST DRAFT of a novel within 30 days. The very concept is daunting. As with many things in life, the way to achieve such a big goal is to break it down into smaller chunks. In this case, we are looking for not 50,000 words in a month, but 1,666 words each day. That isn’t so bad.

Until it is.

There will come a point where the very thought of over 1,500 words will seem like too much. This is where a little mental adjustment comes in.

Instead of fixating on a word count, and how many of those words you have left to write, focus instead on writing a scene. There is a very good chance that even as you read this, or as you sit down to write, that there is a scene — ANY SCENE — sitting there in you mind that needs written. It is immaterial if this particular scene is long or short, the fact remains that it needs written.

Ignore your word count, and write that scene.

How Many Scenes To Get To The Center of a Novel

Like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a lollipop, the idea of how many words there are to be written is meaningless. Rather, there are a certain number of scenes, paragraphs, sentences, and even words that need to be conjured up in order to complete a novel.

Rather than forcing an answer, like Mr. Owl… “One. Two. Three.” Bite!, do what kids all over the world do. Put the lollipop in your mouth and enjoy. When it’s gone, it’s gone.

So to with your book. Stop worry about how many words you need, or how many are left, and write a scene. Then another.

If the scene is a long one, perhaps just writing it to completion fills your word count for the day. If not, then write the next scene, or a completely different one. Just keep adding scenes until the word count says what you want, not the other way round.

Sooner or later, you’ll take a look at your word count and it will say the right thing. Then you stop… if you want.

There may be another scene clamoring in your mind now. If so, write that, if you are able. If you don’t have the time, then perhaps jotting down some notes, or recording a message on your phone so that you can pick up where you left off.

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