& Fridays: The Math of NaNoWriMo

Don’t worry, I won’t make you do the arithmetic.

My mother is a middle school math teacher. I had her for seventh grade Pre-Algebra, and have become quite familiar with her lessons over the years. She always did a unit on graphs. She would point out how easy it is to make graphs misleading, and how they are EVERYWHERE: newspapers, TV, even textbooks. So for a week or two, her students comb through graphs, talk about them, and draw them themselves.

Well, NaNoWriMo has GRAPHS (how’s that for a segway?). Every day that you update your word count, your little word count bar inches closer and closer to the goal line of 1,667 words per day. If you don’t write that much per day, your bar falls below the line. If you surpass it, you could leave that goal line in the dust (seriously, some people write 100,000+ words during November. How do they do it?!)

I think the graphs have provided me with a cool way to look at my writing over the past few years. For example:


In 2013, I tried NaNoWriMo for the first time.

Notice that I was behind on my word count the entire month. I can’t even remember why I didn’t write ANYTHING for Day 2 or Day 3. The whole month it looks like I am struggling to stay afloat. But somehow, on the last day, I remember holing myself up in my room and pounding out those last 7,000 or so words. When I was done, I ran downstairs to show my parents the winner’s screen.

I think it’s pretty cool that although I was behind literally THE ENTIRE TIME, I didn’t give up. I’m pretty proud of that 🙂


2014 was a revisit of a story I had started before. I rewrote everything I had done before, to be in first person, present tense, and to clean up some messes I had left in the first (very rough) draft. I had mixed emotions about submitting it for verification on Day 30, because I technically hadn’t finished the story. I ended it on a scene, but it wasn’t the scene I intended. There were still about 30,000 more words itching to be written, but they weren’t on the page.

But I was clearly a little bit more motivated this time. I remember right there in the middle of the month – that noticable dip – I went to visit my friend in Washington. I brought my laptop, and we were SUPER lazy the whole weekend – I think we watched something like 7 movies while sitting on her couch. But I didn’t write a whole lot. I had a big resurgance in the second half of the month, though, and only had to write out about 3,500 words to make it to the end. Again, I took a screenshot of the winner’s screen.


Which brings us to this year! When I was on vacation (again, that dip in the middle of the month), I forced myself to write AT LEAST 1,000 words a day. The daily goal is 1,667, so I knew I was going to be behind, but not as much as if I just didn’t write. Luckily, my significant other is very laid back and happily watched TV in the background, or sketched while I wrote. And they kept me honest, saying “GO WRITE YOUR WORDS” whenever I started to procrastinate. True love, right there.

On the 21st I took myself to a Starbucks and made myself write a good 5,000 words, and again on the 29th. I only had around 1,600 words to write on the last day, but I got so caught up in the final scenes that I just wrote another 2,000 😛

This year’s story still has another hidden 50,000 words that need to go into it. I can feel it, how it’s just half-finished. Once my characters and I take a little break (I’ve put them through a lot!), I think I might need to fill in a few (giant, noticeable) gaps.

Portland, Oregon, the region I wrote NaNo with, was the 12th highest word count for all of NaNoWriMo 2015. That’s pretty damn impressive, seeing as there were hundreds upon hundreds of regions, and cities around the world participated (Germany had the highest word count). I’m pretty proud of that, too 🙂

Whew! This was a long post! But I missed writing for the blog! Any of you bored stiff by my graph talk? Or do you like seeing things laid out logically?


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