Sunday, October 30, 2011


Keep It Simple, Stupid

I cannot speak for other aspiring authors but for me the journey to become a published author began with research. Learning about the expectations and requirements from various ePublishers and weighing that against what I could realistically produce. One thing that stood out was word count. While it varied from place to place, it was clear to me that my first attempt would be a novella. At around 30,000 words, give or take, I set that as the bar. Unfortunately, that bar can get in the way of the real goal which is writing a good story that others will want to read.

My journey started out something like this –

  • It was going to take 30,000 words – check
  • Create a basic outline for the book – check (and I am taking liberal license with that one)
  • Get to know the hero and heroine – check
  • Start writing – check
  • Use Word Count and NaNo meter to track progress – check

Pitfall number one: Using Microsoft Word’s built–in word count became distracting. Instead of going with the flow, I was constantly going over what I wrote, adding words, editing as I went along which, for me, is not a good thing because I will stay there until it is “perfect”. I turned that option off.

Pitfall number two: I started looking at the NaNo meter. I would update the bar but my percent of completion was not moving to my satisfaction. Then I started worrying that I would not have enough story to fill that meter. Or I would have too much and fall into that grey area of not long enough for a novel or too long for a novella. Is there even a ‘rule’ for that? I don’t know but if there is, I was not falling into that pit.

The bottom line was that worrying about everything was getting in the way of the actual writing. How many words per chapter, how many sentences per paragraph, how much dialog versus narrative, spell checking along the way and getting caught up in passive voice – the list goes on and on.

A good friend keeps telling me to write the story until I get to The End. It is not going to be perfect out of the gate. There will be edits and rewrites that will change everything including the word count. Therefore, my NaNo bar is nothing more than a barometer that tells me I am on track and getting close. I am encouraged when the bar moves but it does not define how or what I write. Liberating myself from all that tracking has allowed me the freedom to write without worry.

My main goal – get it done and submitted before the end of the year.

Word count 459 ~ Characters (with spaces) 2460 ~ Paragraphs 13 ~ Lines 38


  1. You picked a good word count to go for. I pick one when I sit down to write, but it is a fluid thing, sometimes it takes less, sometimes more. Whatever it takes to tell the story the way I want and get to the end.
    Yes, there are enough distractions out there to keep you from writing (hence my own post) nothing should be more important. Writing comes first. All the technical stuff, including word counts comes later. I use the nano bar as a guide only, I like seeing the progress I am making, but I don't stick to it.
    Cheers for your goal. Go for it. I know you can.

  2. That is where I am at as well, it is a barometer for how I am progressing but it no longer defines the writing itself. I got too caught up in it. It took me a while to let go of the numbers and I have to write a significant amount before I dare to look at my progress.

    Considering where I am at right now, it is possible I could go over that goal or even be under it. However, the edits that come after you write the end change everything right?

    Thanks so much for coming back and leaving me a comment Karyn!


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