The Words Don’t Matter

A blogger wrote about NaNoWriMo in a way I just can’t relate to. And it makes even less sense if you’re writing with the intention of getting a novel out of your head and onto that screen. The near-end of the first week made her think about how you put down the words every day and have to worry whether you’ll meet the quota days after day, and beyond NaNo, because even if you do meet that quota every day you have to start over again the next day. If you’re just counting words, I suppose that’s true. But not if you’re writing a novel.

If you’re really writing a novel, then it continues from day to day, growing into the vision you had for it, or becoming a vision even though you weren’t sure at the start what a vision could look like. You don’t start over every day; you continue. If you’re writing a novel, when you reach 50,000 words, you don’t stop and pick up something new; you continue writing until the novel is a whole thing, not a collection of words that have met a daily and monthly quota.

The vision precedes the words. If there’s no vision, the words don’t matter. If you keep the vision in front of you, you’ll find the words.

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4 thoughts on “The Words Don’t Matter

  1. I understand the blogger’s point of view, in a way. The same is true is you’re writing to meet a deadline, which says you must have a story, equaling a certain number of words, all by a certain day.

    So both the story and the number of words can be important. Besides, Nanowrimo doesn’t have daily quota, right? It has a monthly one, making it similar to a deadline. So if I write 2,000 words today, I know I’m building up a buffer and am ahead of schedule. So the “quota” begins again each day but also fits into a larger construct.

    And I like your point about the vision preceding the words. Many Nanowriters get to November First saying they’re not sure what they want to write about. Nano is about words, but it’s also about creation. I don’t understand how someone can think about words only. And miss the bigger picture. In the real writing world, it’s all about quality and quantity, creativity and a schedule. It’s a business and an art.

    1. I understand it too, and I’m using word count myself, mostly as a goad to keep going when the going gets tough. (How far have I gotten today and how much further do I have to go to meet my own goal?) Your points are all valid and the post wasn’t really meant to be the final “word.” More of an off-the-cuff reaction.

  2. I just discovered you on Derek Haines’ “Vandal.” And, certainly, I agree with the vision idea (I generally call it “inspiration”). How anybody can mechanically write a quota of words per day is a mystery to me. I simply write until I get tired and the words stop coming out properly, and then I quit. And I would never be able to write a book by just sitting down at the keyboard, flexing my mental fingers, and saying, “OK, now I’m going to write a story.” The story has to be written inside my mind first, and it’s best to have the beginning, middle, and end complete. If I don’t, I end up with something with no middle and it has to be scrapped. The inspiration can be a dream, or a nurtured idea, or just something that comes to me while I’m brushing my teeth or taking a shower or taking a walk, but it’s got to be there.

    1. Thanks for coming by, Lorinda. I love the intense focus that NaNoWriMo requires, but it would be worthless if I didn’t have a solid story already working itself out in my head. We seem to work the same way. I write off and on throughout the day, giving myself time to recharge physically, and letting temporary road blocks work themselves out while I’m doing other stuff. If I didn’t love writing as much as I do, I wouldn’t even bother with NaNo. Right now, I have an unfinished short story waiting, and a novel in the last stages of revision. I’m not going to set those aside just to reach some predetermined word count.

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