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Monday, November 09, 2009


shopoholic309 asks: I only have 1000 words written for NANO. Problem? Should I give up already?

Give up? GIVE UP? On the 8th of November? When you have 22 days to go?

Think about it this way: so, you have 49,000 words left to write. Originally, you had to write approximately 1,666.6 words a day. Now you have to write 2,227.2 words a day. Which is a difference of just 560.6 words a day. 560.6 words? That’s, like, a sentence! Okay, it’s like a paragraph. Maybe a page. Okay, it’s like a blog answer. I will MAKE this answer 560.6 words long to show you that it is not a big deal to do that many extra words a day. At the moment, I’m at 109 words. Well, 109 was actually the 110th word. And just telling you that has gotten me up to 128 words! Which is about one-quarter of the way! See how this just zips along?

I mean, maybe you’re thinking of when you get an essay assignment and it’s like, “Write 3000 words on which kind of wood is best for eating.” And you’re like, “Oh my god, how am I am going to write 3,000 words?” Because the task already seems hard (the answer, by the way, is balsa—and also whatever my bed was made out of when I was little because I used to crawl out every night and chew on the footboard) . . . when you add a NUMBER to it, it just makes it seem scarier. But numbers, like guns, cannot hurt you. Numbers don’t kill people—math kills people.

Speaking of Numbers . . . have you ever seen that show Numb3rs? Which they actually spell with a 3? In that show, numbers can solve crime. Like, any crime. You can just feel how that show was pitched: “Okay, so, it’s an FBI show . . . but, like, the one agent? Has this brother? Who’s like, a crazy MATH GENIUS? And the FBI guy pulls in his brother and then EVERY WEEK there’s, like, a MATH PROBLEM at the center of the show? And then all of these genius professors will, like, explain math? And we’ll run some mathy graphics in the background so it all seems legit. It’ll be like CSI, but for nerds. Nerds and shut ins.”

The graphics are almost certainly meaningless, but no one cares.

Numb3rs is not a very good show, but it is an example of how numbers can be our friends. And also how we can use numbers in our spelling. For example, I could start spelling my name “Maur33n Johns7.” I won’t, but I could. By the way, I am counting that caption in the word count, which is now 443—which INCLUDES the number 443, which is a real number and not my attempt to spell a word with numbers. (Or numb3rs.)

My point, shopaholic309 (it’s like you KNEW I was going to start spelling names with numbers!) is that you definitely can’t give up before you even start, and you can’t let a little thing like 560.6 words get in the way of your DREAMS. If you want to write, don’t let yourself be scared off. There are a million excuses to make to keep from sitting down and writing. A big part of the battle is just ignoring those things and getting down to business. Don’t let a little thing like 560.6 words get in your wa . . .

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Blogger holeysaintgeorge said...

Maureen, you have made my life that much more complete.

You're so cool.

8:58 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

I almost quit this year's NaNo until I read that. Awesome. There's still hope for me. As long as no math is involved.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Travis said...

Technically, that's 560.66666666... words.

9:04 AM  
Blogger KatieSham said...

This answered my question..that I had not asked yet.


9:07 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I am glad that I read this. You are awesome.

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're too funny and have made me want to push forward on my nano! you Rock!

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually really like the show Numb3rs. I will admit to being a nerd though. But that's a good thing!!!
Your argument for not stopping just because one is behind is highly persuasive though.

10:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Hall said...

Sadly I keep spending my time doing useless things like calling my parents or studying for midterms or reading MJ's h1lari0us blog posts instead of writing for NaNoWriMo...

10:13 AM  
Blogger Kkthenerdfighter said...

I only have 20 words written, I highly doubt I will finish but I am going to keep trying. Only problem is I have no idea what I am writing about. Help?!

10:40 AM  
Blogger Bohemian88 said...

I love that as I was thinking, 'Wait... 560 POINT SIX words?' and then I thought who would ACTUALLY leave without finishing a thought... AND THEN... I got to the end... and you have successfully left without finishing your thought... I admire you for that!

12:21 PM  
Blogger Elly said...

Maureen, I missed your NaNoWriMo updates - hope the move went well!

3:53 PM  
Blogger Ariel said...

I'm not sure your Numb3rs comparison is very good, MJ. My dad is a complete math nerd, and he is always pointing out how that show is completely bogus. Apparently it's mostly fake! I don't know about you, but I feel a bit like the television network is tricking us.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Lyssa said...

I totally agree with you, Maureen. And to all you Wrimos, NaNoWriMo really isn't that hard if you don't ask too much of yourself. you just have to write--it doesn't even have to be good, that's the only way you can write a novel in a month, it has to totally suck. but no good novel has ever been written in a month but the sucky rough draft to a good novel has! so instead of writing a sucky rough draft in over the course of five years, you can write one right now in a month! i'm at 20k words right now because my novel sucks. so just keep sucking and you'll get to 50k. :) you can make it awesome once it's over. keep up the good work Wrimos!

5:16 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Math does kill people. I should know, I have an epic math test this week that will surely suck my soul out from me.

You're right, Maureen. It's time to write our butts off. Thankfully, NaNoWriMo involves no math. Except for the wordcount stuff. But I try to ignore that.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Tenley Nadine said...

This post makes me feel so much better about the fact that I'm only at like 3500 words right now. Stupid college homework, getting in the way of my NaNoWriMo time!

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes I wish your books had more of /this/ in them than actual... normal people book stuff. But I suppose that wouldn't sell very well to all the normal people.


...I feel like you would appreciate that my word verification is "farksly". Seriously.

2:27 AM  
Blogger Larangutang said...

It appears that you have, once again, motivated me and others to continue striving to that 50,000!

2:39 AM  
Anonymous Erin said...

I was considering giving up until this. :)

But now the problem is I want to start over because I very much hate my current story but I have no other ideas. Help?

8:27 AM  
Blogger lalibrarylady86 said...

Once again, Maureen is right, but since I am not a writer, I like to think I can apply this lesson to other parts of my life. Like home renovation projects that are only 1/3 done, or emptying out my garage that is probably only 1/16 done. Of course, this makes me start dealing with fractions which I am not good at dealing with, but if I can become less afraid of fractions, maybe I can finish these projects.
Maureen, can you help me overcome my fear of fractions?

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what happened to the Lost Symbol? That guide was quickly becoming my reason for being! You can't possibly just abandon it!

5:46 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

i generally finish my writing for the day at around 1 am. does it still count for the previous day?

8:12 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

Love this!

Also, I just realized I never knew what the show Numb3rs was about... or why there's a 3 in the title. This does in fact answer my unrealized question. :) Awesome.

4:40 AM  
Blogger kira902k said...

Okay, well you got me there. I was indeed about to give up, but I guess I can do it. Your advice is always amazing, when you actually try. And when you don't it's just hilarious so that's amazing too.

5:20 AM  
Blogger thewildhare said...

lol (Over my way (still out in the middle), things are ok as far as word count, but I fear the story is beginning to bog down. That, I fear,is another blog answer.)

9:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not doing NaNoWriMo, but the advice is helping me write more than I usually do so it's a good thing. Though I don't pay attention to word counts because if I do I'll stop writing and then it'll be a while before I start again even though I know I shouldn't wait that long.

6:47 AM  
Blogger Unforgettable said...

thanks, you've helped me loads!

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Maureen, would you write another NaNoWriMo post? If I said please? I don't have a monkey, but I would let you hold my 7-toed cat.

8:41 PM  
Anonymous nicolejohnson said...

This helped me with writing my 2,000 word essay on Chinese and Mongol women. Thanks. I am no longer afraid of numbers... Okay, I am no longer AS afraid of them... It's a start. :)

9:45 PM  

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