Words Lost and Words Found (NaNoWriMo Update — Week Two)

I have been writing every day—not that this is terribly unusual of late—but this time with the pressure of not getting my word count in for NaNoWriMo on top of it. It’s a silly, self-imposed trial of words, but I think there’s some great value to it. Just having committed to doing it raises the stakes. Of course, I could commit to doing it any time at all, and preferably not in the month when holiday season begins, but there is something to having this whole structure in place with its badges and buddies and sense of accomplishment, the gamification of it all.

Chuck Wendig has a great article about NaNoWriMo that pretty much sums up exactly how I feel about it, but with the added colorfulness of a schoolboy drunk on paint fumes and cough syrup. Beware that it is NSFW. It’s here at terribleminds.com.

But I’m chugging along. I made it to the halfway point yesterday and got a little further today. I’m not on track for my goal to be finished by Thanksgiving, but I am on track for month’s end. Who knows what will happen between now and then though. I’ve been mostly going by the seat of my pants as it is. I can’t seem to get a solid outline written. I’ve got a vague one in my head, and I’m hoping everything continues to fall into place as (I think) it has been. Who knows? It could be complete garbage.

So my plan is to try to get back to over 2k words a day, so I can enjoy Turkeyday knowing that I spit out 50k words that may or may not be any good. Sounds like a great accomplishment, doesn’t it? But its just the beginning. Like Chuck said in his article, it’s draft zero. The rest will be coaxed out in a less frantic, more calculated fashion.

The writing has mostly gone smoothly, but I did have one day of panic, when thanks to a weird functionality of Scrivener, I thought I had lost my entire day’s word count. I had highlighted what I had written that day to calculate how many words. Then, I realized I didn’t need to do that, because the NaNo site just wants a total. So I clicked on the manuscript tab in the sidebar which selects everything and grabbed that total. I went to enter my new total word count on the NaNoWriMo site and it was slightly less than the total from the day before. That didn’t make any sense. I went back to Scrivener and saw that everything I had highlighted previously was gone. By some unknown keystroke, I had unknowingly deleted everything I had written that day.

I went to undo it and the undo button was greyed out. Oh crap. I was in serious panic mode now. I was ready to break things. I opened all the backup files. Not there; they were too old. I searched the Internet and called for assistance from the wife. I was freaking out. Granted, it was only about  1300 words, but they were important words that I didn’t want to have to find in my head again. I had excavated them already and I was pretty happy about it. They would not, could not, come out as well the second time. Even though I was trying to tell myself that they would come out better. That voice was fighting with the other voice that said, “Forget it, I’m giving up.”

My wife saved the day. As she often does. She is amazing. And my panic subsided. She found the answer online. This is the ridiculous and infuriating thing that Scrivener does that almost gave me a heart attack. You cannot undo anything if you have highlighted a folder. You can only undo if your cursor is within a document. I don’t know their logic on this. I imagine they have a reason; whether it’s a good one or not, I can’t say. All I know is that it aged me unnecessarily this past week, so I didn’t appreciate it. I now have Scrivener set on a very aggressive backup schedule in case some other weird functionality rears its ugly head.

Here’s my word count for the week:

  • Day 8: 996
  • Day 9: 2496
  • Day 10: 1791
  • Day 11: 1340
  • Day 12: 1094
  • Day 13: 1703
  • Day 14: 1530

Total for the week: 10,950

Grand Total: 25,826

I’d love it if you shared your total in the comments, if you’re doing Nano. Or even if you’re not. Or share what you think about NaNo or Scrivener. Or what you think about drinking cough syrup and sniffing paint fumes.

Tristram Lowe

Tristram Lowe, Los Angeles, CA