Writing Echoes

Delijah's Writing Blog

Why and How I decided to write 50,000 words in a weekend


I started toying with the idea of NaNoWrimo in one weekend a couple of weeks before the start. As I am not an excessively social person, I find myself having a strange relationship with NaNo, I don’t really get that “Community feeling” many talk about. There are some people I enjoy talking to and meeting sometimes, but that’s it. No big “this is OUR thing” kind of feeling.

Furthermore, there is something I really dislike about NaNo and that is the whole public wordcount thing – and people who feel the need to make you feel guilty for… basically writing more than they do. Let me start saying that I am perfectly aware of

  • The fact that I don’t have the highest wordcount in the world
  • The fact that I am not the best writer in the world
  • The fact that I am perfectly aware that writing 50,000 words in a weekend just makes me a fast typer

However, I am aware of the fact that I can be very constant and that I can type fast, probably faster than the average person. And that sure as hell have a capacity to sit down in front of the computer and write for 8 hours straight that other people don’t have. Does that make me better in any way? Absolutely not. Other people can run marathons. Go admire them (I do!).

And I hate that I feel myself getting defensive about this even now, but if there is something I dislike about the whole NaNo experience, is feeling like I have to apologise for my wordcount. Should a marathon runner apologise for having more endurance than me when he is running? No. Then neither should I.

Anyway, the point of this is that writing 50000 words in one month, even with my messy crazy life is not really a challenge. I can do it. I knew I could do it before I did NaNo the first time. I keep hoping that the companionship spirit kind of thing kicks anytime, but it does not. Last year I did it ‘as fast as I could’… except not really. I took long hours ‘off’ on the first of November, and I wrote 20,000. I could have written more, but was procrastinating around for 4 hours.

I started thinking, though. Could I do it in a weekend? 25,000 and 25,000 in just two days? Well, there was a way to find out, and this year there was a weekend and two free days.

The first thing I did was allocating sleeping time: (six hours from three to nine AM), and two hours for lunch and dinner, for “non writing time”: 2 • (6 + 1 + 1)= 16 hours of non-writing time, therefore 48 – 16 = 32 hours of writing time.

I did the calculation in words per hour (wph):

\frac{50000 words}{32 hours}=1562,5 \simeq 1563 wph

For me, 1563 words per hour are doable, how many times in a row, that was the question.

I built a table stating which wordcount I should have by the end of the hour and I got on with it, however during Saturday I always tried to write ‘a bit more’ to have some wordcount buffer. I also wrote some during lunch and dinner. The last hours of the evening were the hardest ones, so at some point I did some rearranging so I could go to bed earlier and catch a few hours more of sleep (two, actually, which in the end I did not sleep through). I finished Saturday at 27874 words and went to bed about 15 minutes later with 28052.

Starting Sunday, the new goal was around 1600 words for the first hours of the morning in order to have fewer words to write after 7 PM which had been tougher the previous day, but I managed to do some good pulling during the morning (coffeeeeeeeee), so I was able to gradually reduce the amount of words which were needed per hour. Once again I did some writing over lunch and dinner time and I clocked in the story and the wordcount around 21:40 at 50,050 words. You can see the whole progress by the hour on the other post regarding the insanity.

nano_14_1stWE_hWC nano_14_1stWE_hCWC

Hourly wordcount (left) and cumulative hourly wordcount (right)

I do have to admit that I was pressed at a couple of points because I was running out of plotpoints and had to improvise, and that took some time out of writing, and added some ‘tension’ to the whole thing. I really miscalculated my outline though, I was hoping it would be good for 60,000 words.

As I have mentioned before, Houritsu is not the best story ever. It has terrible typos and general… NaNowriting (aka NaNoisms), so no, this is no instant bestseller. But NaNoWriMo 2014 held my own personal challenge and that was it. I found out that I can write 50,000 words and type out a complete draft all by myself, in two days, and you know what? It felt good, and I am not going to apologise for anything, because it would be stupid to do so. It is nothing wrong. I can do this, other people can do other things.

NaNoWriMo in a Weekend was kindly sponsored by:

  • Free coke bar
  • Obscure-brand apple juice
  • Cheap salty snacks
  • Sales custard
  • Coffee!!
  • Random candy
  • Too much chocolate

9 responses to “Why and How I decided to write 50,000 words in a weekend

  1. christawojo November 7, 2014 at 00:16

    Coke bat as in cocaine? Hahaha.

    • Sakaki Delijah November 7, 2014 at 23:41

      More like the caffeine kind XD

      • christawojo November 8, 2014 at 00:04

        I think I would need the illegal coke to write as much as you! But I can’t believe you ever got a hard time from other writers who can’t keep up with your word count. Seems very immature.

        I would love to try a weekend warrior type of writing spree, just to see what the result would be. What are your plans for your book?

        • Sakaki Delijah November 8, 2014 at 00:30

          It was hard, but not as hard as I expected, and actually a lot of the trouble came because I found a plothole in the planning (I suddenly needed to use one guy that I had killed a few scenes before) and because the story moved forward so fast that I almost ran out of plot (This was a first, I usually miscalculate NaNo outlines by a couple of 10k, but the novel ends up being longer). So this was a success as it was an experiment in fast-paced writing… Of course, it has a hell of a lot of typos, but I am kind of proud of it XD

          I won’t say that I’ve had a lot of hate going on, but yes, I got some nasty comments from people, and a couple of times was accused of demoralising people… Or people who outright said that if you had more than them automatically made what you wrote a pile of crap.

          The result is interesting, as you are pouring out the characters so quickly that they develop in fast-forward in front of you. I was surprised how much they changed from outline to actual story. The experience is also quite cool, if you can live with finger numbness the next day… Thing is, if I look at the graph “per hour”, it does not seem “that much” – I know I can write up to 5000 words in one hour, but that’s… exceptional, and usually backed up by a very powerful outline. But in the end it was fun and I’m glad I did it.

          Houritsu probably goes into the “you really need to get revising these” pile for now. Once NaNo is over I’ll look at the pile and decide on revising priority to maybe try to put something out there.

          • christawojo November 10, 2014 at 20:38

            So, I think your secret (besides speed typing) is to have a thoroughly planned outline.

            I used an outline for my first NaNoWriMo, but I didn’t follow it, so I went without one for the next two books. After trying to wing it, I think I’ll be going back to outlining again. It’s good to have a guide, even if it’s only there to not follow.

            Keep us posted on your projects!

            • Sakaki Delijah November 16, 2014 at 13:34

              I’ve had better-planned outlines than this time, if I have to be honest, but I think that the ability to spend many hours focused in one project has come with time. My first “crazy” sprint was about 6000 words in one day. Then it built up. For the first of November (consider that where I live, it is a national holiday, so it has been a free day every time except in 2011, when I lived overseas):

              Day 1
              2009 DWC 7500
              2010 DWC 10003
              2011 DWC 7566
              2012 DWC 14100
              2013 DWC 20031
              2014 DWC 27874

              So it is a combination of a) motivation, b) outlining and c) training, I’d say.

              There is this epic line in one of Errol Elmuir’s NaNoWriMo songs which goes along “I think I lost my outline, doesn’t matter, wasn’t using it”.

              So, may I snoop and ask what you are up to this NaNo? 🙂

  2. christawojo November 17, 2014 at 04:06

    Yes, I agree that motivation is the essential ingredient to finish NaNoWriMo. I have learned that outlining is useful, whether you use it or not. And you’re right about the training! After two Nano’s, I can whip out the daily minimum without hurting my brain. I could see doing 6,000 in a day, but 27,874? How many hours was that? It may be possible during a 24 hour day, but my main distraction is pain. Marathon writers need Kung Fu Yogi type skills for ignoring their bodies. I might be able keep writing if it weren’t for the backache, carpal tunnel, and numb fingers! I try to do yoga in the morning before I write, and I do some stretching in between chapters. It’s like the Olympics! Do you have any secrets for keeping still long enough to pump out so many words? Some people dictate to their computer, but I can’t write without the physical part of writing. I am not a talker at all. What’s your secret to staying at the computer?

  3. christawojo November 17, 2014 at 04:10

    Oh yeah, and I skipped this NaNo. I tried to do a JuNo, but it trickled into November. I’m finishing the last of this series I started for my first NaNo 2012 http://christawojo.com/works-in-progress/. Now I have to learn how to revise. Any tips for that as well? I see you’ve been in the game for 5 years 🙂

    • Sakaki Delijah November 23, 2014 at 14:17

      Hm, I think it was around 17 hours of effective writing for Saturday and maybe 13 for Sunday?

      I think my being terribly neatpicking regarding my workchair helped. I spent months – literally – looking for the right one, considering my height and my keyboard position. In the end I found the perfect one (at IKEA. Go figure.) and it has helped a lot. I have not felt nearly as much pain as I did last year with the 20k spree. Also, my natural position is not being straight (such as I sleep in a ball so I am used to being ‘folded’) so that helps. But no dictation, it was all typed up. I tried to get my 1600 words typed out within the first 50 minutes of the hour so I could have 10 minutes off, walking around and stretching fingers and back.

      A few years ago I was diagnosed with a malformation of the right wristbone which caused a lot of pain on my right hand. In order to give it some rest I switched my mouse to the right side, as if I were a lefty, and that helped me increase computer efficiency and reduce pain… Or maybe I just got used to it as I grew older? Because apparently the nerves keep sending the same pain signals, I just don’t care that much anymore about it?

      I am terrible at revising, if I am honest ._. I never feel that anything is ‘ready’, so if I come up with any tricks when I move onto revising for real, I’ll make sure to tell you ^^