Jeremiah Donalson on Horror Writing

Counting Words

by Jeremiah Donaldson

It’s nearly time to attempt writing 50k words during the month of November. That’s 12500 words per week. 1785.7 words per day. 74.4 words per hour. 1.24 words per minute. And who can’t do 1.24 words per minute, right? Ah, but if it were only that simple…

I’ve figured these numbers up several times now just to double check them. Why? Well, this is my first attempt at Nano. I’ve known about it for years, but this will be the first time I’ve had a project of the right length to work on during the correct time frame. Even so, I’ve been biting at my bit for the couple months since I decided upon the project. 99% of me says ‘Go, go, go, mfer! The hell you screwing around until November for!’ and the other 1% says ‘Just wait, asshole. You already have too much stuff to work on.’ It’s not my fault both are right.

logomontageSo, I compromised. I did research and character outlines for this so deceptively simple undertaking while working on other stuff. For me, the challenge of Nano month isn’t writing 50k words. For me, the challenge is writing that many words on a single project.

I took a bit more than a year off from ‘real’ work that ended the first of September this year when I was forced to become a part-time corporate slave again. That time off was enabled by a car wreck I was in the end of 2012. I returned to writing in full force, catching up on the several bad years I had due to family issues. I firmly believe a person should rise early for best use of the day, and I fell into a 530 am to 10 am schedule. I spent 8-12 hours a day in front of the computer working on something, depending on other requirements of the day. Graphics. Research. Writing. Editing. Essays. Generally making myself visible and vocal online. For months. And months. The only days I took ‘off’ were the days that words dancing before my eyes, making it impossible to read or write anything. I’ve kept the same hideous pace doing ‘real’ work before also, working 80+ hours a week for months.

But there’s a secret to being able to do that. The 80+ hours a week got divided between three different jobs. I never looked at the same place long enough to get burned out. Same thing with massive hours working on writing and associated projects. But instead of going to a different job before I get burnt out, I just switch to something different when I bog down, because that’s the queue for change. The time taken to bog down could be hours, days, or weeks. It depends on the project and where I’m at. I’d estimate I’ve written nearly 50k words per month for almost the last year. My current project to be released before Nano starts will put me at approx 40k published words for the year spread between four projects. My Nano story will be project number five and will put me close to 100k words in a year by the time I finish editing in January.

However, to ‘win’ Nano month and close in on the 100k mark, I must put this work into a single project for a month without burnout. That’s that real challenge for me.

What is this post-apocalyptic, SF/horror shout out to epic heroes everywhere? Well, that would be telling. But look for the associated project from me around February if you want to check it out. Until then, keep reading and writing.


memarch2012Jeremiah Donaldson writes from London, Kentucky where he lives with his daughter. He is hard at work as a part-time corporate slave and starving artist.

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