I’ve resisted hard word count goals since the first, last and only time I did NaNoWriMo a decade or more ago. (Nothing wrong with NNWM, by the way, it just did what it needed to do–prove to me I could perform acts of sustained writing.) Anyway, a few weeks back the topic of the monthly whole-book queue for the rest of the year came up at WUTA, and I did a quick estimation of how long it would take me to do a clean draft of the WIP. “Put me down for August” is what I said.
Then I went back and figured out what I’d need to average in terms of weekly output to produce a clean 90K word draft so before the end of July. Answer: 3000 words. About 430 words a day, not that my output is that regular: traditionally about half of my word count comes on weekends, because I have longer blocks of time available then.
And yet. Over the last few weeks, I’ve gotten better at hitting that daily non-target, plus or minus 10%, on weekdays. Just having a number hovering there, a number I’m trying to not think about, has an effect. Even on Tuesdays, when I’m slicing words out of a piece before it goes to the writers’ group for incremental review, I can still net close to 400 words, which means I’m actually writing 600 or more.
The only reason I can come up with is that my brain responds to having set goals by pacing itself to reach those goals. Within reason; a NaNoWriMo 1800 word a day pace may have worked once, before the son. With a kid, and the same day job (for which I am stupendously grateful), and a desire to keep my wife reasonably happy? Not so much.
It helps that I’m writing in my wheelhouse again, funked-up noirish mystery, or as Jaye Wells so aptly describes it, Speculative Crime Fiction. I enjoyed writing the SF novel, but there’s a reason they call it HARD science fiction. It took me a week of fiddling with a orbital motion simulator to convince myself the original ending just didn’t smell right…by contrast the greatest tangential distraction on the WIP has been writing a brief synopsis of Act I of a non-existent Beethoven opera on the great slave revolt of 1815. That only took an hour or so.
I didn’t bother with Act II, since I just figured everyone died.