When is it too late to join NaNoWriMo?

If you’ve ever thought of taking part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), you might have run into this question: when is it too late to join NaNoWriMo? Many people start planning for NaNoWriMo well before November, but for others life has a way of, well, getting in the way.

I ran into this problem the first year I heard about NaNoWriMo since I heard about it well into the first week of November. Though I was already lagging behind in word count, I still tackled the challenge and managed to finish by the skin of my teeth on the last night. But this might be the exception to the rule. At a certain point, no matter how determined you are, NaNoWriMo becomes unfeasible.

NaNoWriMo crestSo, how can you figure out if it’s too late to take up the NaNoWriMo challenge?

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On writing: Word count spreadsheets

NaNoWriMo is coming and with that the word count crunch! For those of you unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, here’s the blurb from their About page:

NaNoWriMo crestNational Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.

50,000 words in one month is pretty daunting: most writers aren’t nearly that prolific. But this challenge is for anyone, as NaNoWriMo emphasizes. So how’s the average writer supposed to tackle such a gargantuan task?

Well, one common answer is word count spreadsheets. A spreadsheet won’t do the writing for you, but it will help you keep track of your progress, and as you chip away at that 50,000 word mountain, you’ll see that 50,000 words in a month can be done.

Note: to modify these word count spreadsheets, you’re going to need a program like OpenOffice or Microsoft Excel, or use a service like Google Docs.

The Basic:

Justin McLachlan has made a very good basic word count spreadsheet for writers who only care about word count.

NaNoWriMo Tracker by Justin McLachlanThis spreadsheet tracks the very basics: word count, the day’s target, if you are meeting your goal, and how far along you are. But what I really love about this spreadsheet is the colors used to visually cue the user as to their progress towards their goal. Utilizing the stoplight colors of red / yellow / green helps the user know when they are on track and when they are falling behind. Green is excellent, yellow is good, but red means danger, Will Robinson!

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