Saturday, September 29, 2012

Number Shrinking

Hey y'all

One of the things I would like Write Club members to do is to give NaNoWriMo a serious attempt.  If they fail, it won't be because they didn't try, I hope.  Time constraints are often a problem, so as long as they put in a good effort, I won't be disappointed.  After all, 50,000 words is a lot, especially for new writers.

The trick is to do number shrinking.

What we are shrinking is not the amount of writing done, but the perception of how much writing you feel you have ahead of you.  I've figured it out.  The first number is of course fifty thousand.  November has 30 days in it, so divide 50,000 by 30 and you get 1,667, rounded up to a whole number.

That's still a bit longer, isn't it?  Can we shrink this further?  Sure.  Now, I'm a simplistic person, and thus I hate Microsoft word.  I don't like all the extra features, and especially not that red line that appears at the bottom of words you misspell (fantasy writers want to misspell some stuff, Word).  And so I use Wordpad until I want to edit a document with special formats.  And when I got a new computer, I even transferred the old Wordpad over so I wouldn't have to use the new, too feature intense Wordpad.

Thus, the area in which I write isn't shaped like a piece of paper.  It's just a wide area almost as wide as the computer screen itself.  Therefore, I counted the number of words per line and got and average of 44.  Also, I counted the number of lines of text that I could could see at one time without scrolling down.  I got thirty six -- you might get more on your screen, because my screen is kind of narrow.

In any case, thirty six lines of forty four words comes out to 1,584 words per screen.  Thus, writing one screen of text gets me almost one full day's worth of writing done.  Doing the math, it takes only 1.1 screens worth of text to get what I need to fulfill a day's quota of text and thus win NaNoWriMo.  See how that works?  50,000 shrunk all the way down to 1.1.  Surely 1.1 screens a day won't kill me.

However, there are two problems with my figure of 1.1.  First of all, not all of you like to use Wordpad, and your monitors are differently shaped from mine.  This problem isn't too bad, however.  There is no reason why your number shouldn't be too different from mine.  Just follow this process:

    1. Count how many words per line for at least five lines of your work that go across the screen.  Add these numbers together, then for however many lines you counted, divide the total by that number.  So if you counted five lines, divide by five.  Round to the nearest whole number.

    2. Count how many lines fit on one of your screens.  The easiest way to do this is to just type a letter, hit enter, type a letter, and enter again repeatedly.  Let your first letter be a capital letter, and then pick another letter and enter it over and over until your capital letter will go off the screen with the very next enter.  Then simply count the number of letters you have on your screen.  It helps with counting if you made every tenth letter a different one.

   3. Multiply the number of words per line by the number of lines you have per screen.  This will give you words per screen.

   4. Divide 1,667 (that is, the number of words per day to beat NaNoWriMo) by the number of words per screen you got.  This will give you the number of screens you have to complete per day to win NaNoWriMo.

I hope all that math didn't confuse you.  It's not as hard as it seems.  It only involves simple math anyway.  Trust me, if it were complicated I wouldn't be able to do it.  I wish I knew physics.  Then again, I wish I knew everything, so let's just move on.

The second problem with the 1.1 figure is that this entails writing 1.1 screens of single-spaced lines that go completely across the screen.  Due to dialogue, double spacing between paragraphs, and lines that just plain don't go all the way across, that 1.1 screens of full text will inflate to two or, if dialogue goes on a long time, possibly three screens in practice.  However, this isn't all that daunting.  Two and three are still smaller numbers than 50,000, so the vastness of writing that many words in a month has still gone down.

Besides, if I get caught up in the heat of the moment of writing, I find myself writing more than my daily quota.  This should cover me up on the days I might not make it.  So therefore, don't count your words during NaNoWriMo.  If you must, do so only once on the 15th or the 16th, and then one final time on the 29th to give yourself energy for a writing sprint.

Don't count early on, and don't count on the last stretch.  It will discourage you if you do it too much, especially early on.  If you count in the middle or almost to the end, you will be able to think to yourself, "Wow, I really did all that!" instead of "Crap...I suck."

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