Novel in 90: Writing’s Not About Wordcount

Writing's not about the wordcount. It's about the story. Read more at

I’ve run into my first major issue with Novel in 90 as a program. Writing’s not about wordcount; it’s about story.

Let me elaborate.

The Broken Starts

I finally started writing, post vacation and associated recovery, and my first opening…I hated it. I invested 1500 words into it and it just wasn’t interesting this way. It didn’t work, it wasn’t active enough, I was backstory dumping to figure out what I needed story-wise.

Which it should have been fine. It’s a first draft. If it doesn’t suck here and there (or everywhere), I’m not actually writing.

So I started another scene in Scrivener and wrote 500 words….and still hated it.

Another scene…120 words and stopped. Literally wrote “HATE THIS START” into my file so I wouldn’t waste time later trying to see if it was salvageable.

So I packed away the story for the night and slept on it.

NaNoWriMo versus Novel in 90

In the morning, I realized that I was starting with a POV I didn’t want to use in the long run, so I needed to focus the story from a different character. More importantly, though, was my realization about the inherent differences between Novel in 90 versus NaNoWriMo.

With NaNoWriMo, you could start over and over again and all those words could add up to a success. Within the NaNoWriMo metrics, I could look back on those words as part of my accomplishment. If I were doing NaNoWriMo, I could add all these words to my progress bar and it would offer the illusion of solid progress. (I am not a stranger to having a frustrated relationship with NaNoWriMo. See here.)

Novel in 90, however, was different. The goal in Novel in 90 is that the writing’s not about the wordcount. It’s about starting, middling (muddling), and finishing a story. It’s about taking a project from whatever stage you had it at, and just taking it through to the end of the draft. Having something to fulfill the brief of a “novel” by the end of the project.

So while my Novel in 90 bullet journal tracks my wordcount, my dailies are two pages dedicated to my thoughts on the process and what I am finding challenging, frustrating, or difficult about this process. The wordcount is not the sole focus of the challenge.

So, today, I want to give an extra shout out to the writers on the Novel in 90 Facebook group. I posted about my starting frustrations and was saved with a whole bunch of “been there”s and “keep going”s! We are all in this boat together and want to share our stories.


Page with Comments

  1. Ganbatte! <3 You can do this!
    I'm currently stuck in post-beta editing hell, so I feel your pain of "lots of work feeling like it leads nowhere".

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