Monthly Archives: November 2015

NaNoWriMo and 2000 words

I did it. 50k words in the month of November done!

I had heard about NaNoWriMo for a few years now (where you write a book, 50k words at least, in the month of November), and I’ve been wanting to participate, as a bucket list kind of thing. I always felt a few things stood in the way. Previously, I was finishing or working on other projects when November came around, and those took priority. Also, most of the projects I had in mind were 2 or 3 times 50k words and while a good jumpstart on epic fantasy, not really getting a book done in the month, which would be my goal.

After The Blades of War, I needed a break from Caleb and the revolution. I finished Make a God in October (a little late according to my goal) and had a handful of shorter novels I wanted to write. I decided to pick one and go for it this year.

I decided on The Pack. It was a short story of mine that I had a lot more backstory and character to explore, and I liked the story and Sarah, the main character, overall. Trying to do something different and original with the werewolf motif.

I’ve already written about how music has helped me be more creative over these last few months, but I wanted to share the 2k word rule I learned over the summer.

While the industry is “word count” centered, I never really was. I went for pace and story and what I felt the book needed. But the more you get involved in writing, the more you have to count words. It’s not creative, but it is what it is.

Over the summer, I went to DFW Writer’s Conference, and a successful author shared something that I decided to adopt. Charlaine Harris, author of the books that they used for the show True Blood, shared her “work schedule.” This is a woman who makes her living off of writing and has for decades. When asked in a panel what their normal writing schedule is, they all talked about treating it like it’s a job, even when you aren’t getting paid for it, Harris shared her rule of “2k words or six pages” a day. When she gets to 2k words or six pages, she’s done for the day.

I sat at the conference and said, “Hey, I could do that.” Because I can.

The problem isn’t the ability to write but the discipline to keep at it every day, to find that time in the midst of wife, kids, work, church, friends, whatever, and get two or three hours at least done in the day.

And for me, 2k words is basically two or three hours. But that’s less time watching TV or movies. No binge watching on Netflix. Things have to get cut out. But if I’m honest, and I would say for you, too, I waste time on FB or social media or keeping up with the shows I like. Or going down YouTube rabbit trails where I’m watching cats freak out with cucumbers and soldiers coming home to their families for the 50th time.

Is it worth it?

Once I got to September, I decided to go with that rule. 2k words a day. I finished Make a God with that pace. Some days were more than 2k words because once I got on that roll, the story came out in big chunks. I think my record for October was 10k words in a day. Other days, getting to 2k words was really difficult. I didn’t know what the scene was supposed to do or be. I didn’t have a good handle on the “what’s next” of the story.

2k words a day forced me to.

Yes, I get the point that I’m crazy for taking something a successful writer does for a living and trying to do it when I have 2 part time jobs and traveling and all the other stuff of life.

But I also have a feeling that’s how you become a successful writer doing it for a living.

Now off to do my 2k words for the day. The Pack isn’t complete yet.


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Music and Writing

Everyone’s different, I know. Some people need quiet when they work on things. Others can work with stuff going on.

I like to listen to music when I write. I like music that helps to set the mood. I put together a playlist for each book I’m working on, albums and artists that put me in the right frame of mind to be creative.

I’ve discovered, for me, that new music really helps feed my creativity. I would not have finished Make a God in October without new music from Winery Dogs, Stryper, and some suggestions like Symphony X and the new album from Lone Bellow. I did some standbys, as well, but that new music was like a shot in the arm.

My goal for Make a God was to finish by the end of October. I stayed pretty consistent through October with that goal and finished, literally, on October 31.

Starting Nov 1, I began The Pack, the novel version of a short story I wrote a couple years ago. I’m writing it for NaNoWriMo, which is a bucket list kind of thing for me. There was no break in writing, keeping up with 2k words a day, or that goal.

Now I’ve been searching for new music as I write. With The Pack, I’ve been listening to more Symphony X and getting into Theocracy.

Do you listen to music when you write? What do you listen to when you write?


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