Tag: finish

How to Write 50,000 words this month

I’ve been a full-time writer since July of 2013. Since November of 2013, I’ve been participating in the insanity called National Novel Writing Month. But this year, things will look a little different on my calendar.

If you’re interested in what NaNoWriMo is or how it came to be, check out the official website here. There’s more than you’ll ever want to know.

Once you decide to join the craze (it’s a little late for 2016, but November 2017 will be here before you know it), check out my profile. My nanowrimo user name is slhughson. We can buddy up. It will be fun.

My writing schedule in 2016 will look slightly different than it has in the past several years. Why? Because I plan to continue substitute teaching two days per week AND I have an author event to plan and attend.

Yes, there are plenty of people who work full-time jobs and plan to write 1,667 words per day. At this pace, they will complete 50,000 words in the month of November and WIN NaNoWriMo (more on winning next week).

I admire them. I am not them, however. I am a full-time author who does some teaching in order to feed my writing habit. Because those royalty-only contracts don’t generate a paycheck that will cover the costs associated with writing.

Someday, I will write a best-seller and the royalty checks will look better than the $175 per day I earn subbing in a local classroom.

A Tale of Two Schedules


I chose not to use last year because I had given myself an earlier deadline because we traveled to the beach the week of Thanksgiving. I didn’t want to cart my writing brain with me. By the end of November, it’s pretty much a frazzled bundle of haywire.

My writing schedule compasses only a five-day week. My husband is off work on weekends, and I like to be available so we can jaunt off to a home remodeling show or to the movies. And Sunday is not even my day. They don’t call it The Lord’s Day for nothing.

So, I look at the November calendar and decide how many full writing days I will have. In this case, twenty or less. I wanted to finish by November 25 so I would have the weekend of Thanksgiving free and time on the 26th to prep my pie and rolls (what I generally take to the Hughson family Thanksgiving feast).

50,000 divided by 17 (available writing days) meant I needed to write 2,941 words per day to reach my goal. So I set a goal of 3,000 per day (which is about three hours of writing for me if I get in the groove and nothing interrupts me).

According to the Nanowrimo website, I finished 50, 816 words by November 21.

That happened to be the Late Night Write-in at the local library. I lugged my laptop there and huddled with six or eight other novelists. They all rejoiced with me when I uploaded my novel and had the words verified before 10pm.

Winner! If you do the math, I averaged 3,387 words per day to accomplish the win.

It’s all about setting daily goals and meeting them.

It isn’t as hard as it sounds. Lock yourself into your writing space until the word count is achieved. Update the word count on nanowrimo.org and celebrate.


Why does this year look so different? Why can’t I just schedule the 3,000 words per day and call it good?

Because I’m a realist.

And I don’t like to fall behind in the word count.

When I look at the calendar for November this year, I have to subtract two days from each of the first three weeks of the month (hoping I will substitute teach on those days).

Now a normal person might ask, “Why can’t you write after you’ve done a sub job?”

My brain will not be in a “writing space” after a day in the classroom. Even if it is a wonderful room filled with engaged students and an engaging lesson plan.

My introverted self will use up every drop of emotional energy to interact with people all day long. That’s a fact. I know it, so I can plan around it.

Of course, I’d like to finish the novel before Thanksgiving again this year. That holiday is on November 24, a little earlier than usual because the month starts on a Tuesday.

Let’s do the math. This is simple math. My writing brain can handle it.

Ten days.

I have ten days to write 50,000 words. Even I can do the division in my head. I need to write 5,000 words per day.

The good thing about my goals is I itemize them by week. Week one I must write 10,000 words. If for some reason I only reach 8,000 by end of day on Friday, I will force myself to write 2,000 on Saturday.

And, yes, I keep my word count in a spreadsheet. At least until I meet my daily and weekly goals.

By the time I attend my author event at the middle school on November 9, I will have written 15,000 words in a new novel.

Before I can enjoy the second weekend, I will need to have written 25,000 words. Halfway to completion before November 15.

Can I do it?

Yes. I’m determined I can.

How do you plan to meet your goals? (Please don’t say you don’t plan. Please. No plan is a plan to fail.) Share your wisdom in the comments.

If this post appealed to you, you might like Hero Delivery. It’s a bulletin with deals and specials from Sharon Hughson. It can be on the way to your inbox in a few clicks.
Check out Finding Focus and my other books. You’re sure to find something worth reading.
Already read one of more? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. That’s like the author disc

Finishing the First Draft

I love having a plan. It’s exciting to finish the first draft of the series I’m writing and know that I have the next steps carefully scheduled.

“I love it when a plan comes together,” says Hannibal Smith on The A-Team.

What about when the plan wilts like a tulip in the hot sun? I don’t imagine Smith would be smiling any more than I am. Of course, he wouldn’t be on the verge of tears either. Well, he’s not a writer.

The first book is awful. Let me clarify:  I had to take naps during the afternoons when I did the read-through (step one of the rewriting process). Yep, it’s that horrendous. Basically snooze-worthy.

The characters are cardboard, tension is non-existent and even I (the creator of this universe) don’t understand the magic system and am unable to visualize the setting. Good grief!

My dilemma: where to begin to fix this masterpiece of disaster?

Image from grumpycats.com

Part of me wants to toss the whole thing in the trash and restart. Sure, I can save it in a Word document and not pay attention to it when I begin again. That way I don’t just delete months of work – some of which might be redeemable.

Another part of me screams, “That’s 50,000 words wasted!” I try to tell myself that they were well-spent words, helping me find my characters and figure out what the story was really about. Even if they’re true, those words fall on deaf ears. I don’t want to listen to that which sounds like excuses for the emotionless bore that I penned.

In truth, there are about ten scenes that I feel are well-written. I cared about the characters and could visualize what was happening during those few moments. I should keep those few remnants and begin again.

My fingers freeze over the delete button. I’m not in love with these words. I read them. They bored me to death. The story is so dead the undertaker arrived with his hearse.

Why am I arguing with myself over this?

The ugly truth: I have a schedule. My master plan doesn’t involve another month for a complete rewrite. It allowed two weeks for revisions and then another two or three for polishing the prose. There are beta readers chomping at the bit.

They would never read something written by me again if they glimpsed the horror show of my first draft. Someone is shaking their head, assuming I’m being a typical perfectionist writer. (Yes, I’m talking to you, Joan!)

Uh – no. I wouldn’t recommend these pages for use as toilet paper. Out of 50,000 words, maybe 8,000 reveal character and build tension. I’m not even sure a match would choose to devour most of this drivel.

I waffled before starting this book. I didn’t want to let the series that I was in the middle of before die. I loved it. It’s obvious that the words in this book were torn from the fingers of a reluctant storyteller.

How can I love the second book in the series, written in 23 days during November, and despise this book? Does it make sense to anyone?

First draft failure.

Plans derailed.

“Do I really have to start from scratch?” Maybe. Maybe not.

Either way, someone should call the WHAAA-Ambulance.