Tuesday, June 21, 2011

30,000 Word Checkpoint

Nine days to go.

Earlier this month, I posted a blog about the 30,000 word challenge Rachel issued. As of this morning, she's right on track at 22,000 words, despite a gardening injury that has relegated her to hunting and pecking at her keyboard.

After a slow start, I picked up steam and was very excited to cross the 18,000 word mark last night. (I promptly stalled today when my daughter and I began painting the dining room, cutting deeply into my writing time.) The rest of the group is humming along as well, in various places on the word count spectrum. Like Rachel, Karina is likely to clear that 30,000 word hurdle, probably with words to spare.

At the beginning, I never expected to make it to 30,000, but I liked the nudge that the challenge gave me. Now, at 18,000+ words, I'd like to see if it's more possible than I thought it was.

Initially, I thought I'd just "count" words I wrote for my novel, but I didn't need 30,000 more words for my novel (unless I wanted to do a LOT of pruning later on). A few days in, I decided to count blogs, too, particularly since I didn't think I'd come anywhere close to making that 30,000 word goal without them.

This challenge has been interesting. We're emailing each other a couple of times a week, praying for each other in between. I'm remembering why I log hours of writing rather than numbers of words - for me, counting words sometimes gets in the way of the kind of progress I want to make. If I want to trim a paragraph, for example, or revise a scene that's too wordy, I can spend a productive morning doing just that. But when the net number of words gained is only in the hundreds - or worse yet, in the negative numbers - at the end of a couple of hour's work, I feel a sense of disappointment if I'm gauging my success only by number of words written.

Does that mean taking this challenge was a mistake? Not at all. In the beginning of June, I had no idea how far away the finish line was. With no concept of how many words I wrote in a typical month, I didn't know if that magic end point was down the street, across town, or on another continent.

And to be honest, I still don't know because this isn't a typical month. First of all, I am counting words, something I've never done before. Second, I am on vacation. My output has increased dramatically since I began this challenge on June 3 (2 days behind schedule), because I am not currently working full time and trying to wrap those words around an already jam-packed day. There's no way I'd have made it to 18,000 words if I was going to work every day besides.

So, Rachel, my hat's off to you. Whether or not I make it to the finish line, this has been great fun and just the nudge I needed to get my summer writing on track. And best of all, I have comrades in arms running the race with me, and keeping me in their prayers.

Talk about an auspicious beginning to summer.


  1. What a fun challenge. Sometimes it's amazing to see what we actually do! keep it up.