#NaNoWriMo Validation Tricks

We are approaching the end of the month, and the validation window for NaNoWriMo is now open. To be a winner on the NaNoWriMo site, you need to clock in at 50,000 words, at least. However, sometimes, the validation process of those 50,000 words can be a little tricky, especially if you were a NaNoWriMo Rebel.

Perhaps you didn't work on a new project, but continued on the project that you have working on for the last few month. (I did this.) Maybe you were working on multiple projects at the same time, all in different files. (Guilty as charged.) It's conceivable that the allure of editing drew you in, for whatever reason, and you needed to work your writing hours away with your editor's hat on. (Um... Yep. That was me too.) Or maybe you decided to divide your creative energies between writing and something else, like drawing. (Nope, this one wasn't me. I can't draw to save my life.)

Whatever the reason that a pure copy/paste of 50,000 words into the validator on NaNoWriMo is not feasible, there are some tricks that you can play to make your life easier.

The Multiple Project Conundrum

Every year, every NaNoWriMo and CampNaNoWriMo cycle, I fall into the same category. I'm the rebel in the extreme, never working on a single project. I often find myself flipping between writing, research, editing, blogging, and occasionally, prepping for workshops. I have an incredibly busy schedule that never leaves me with a feeling of nothing-to-do. In fact, I have to force myself to take time out to have quality time with my family.

For NaNoWriMo and CampNaNoWriMo, this means that I'm often left with a situation with my word counts being divided among multiple projects. Instead of somehow piecing them together to form a single project, there is an incredibly simple solution. Use a Lorem Ipsum generator.

For those who have no idea what Lorem Ipsum actually is, it's a nonsensical algorithm used to make filler words. This is the sort of text that comes from a Lorem Ipsum generator.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse ultrices ut massa ac placerat. Phasellus id vestibulum purus. Proin posuere et mi a mollis. Mauris risus turpis, eleifend eu dolor sit amet, vehicula cursus leo. Maecenas dictum eget nulla eget facilisis. Donec ex tortor, molestie et metus sit amet, fringilla sodales est. Vivamus et nisi nulla. Sed nec laoreet eros. Suspendisse sit amet justo ut libero iaculis varius eu vel leo. Integer ac ipsum vel erat laoreet finibus. Etiam eget faucibus quam. Duis et nisl non justo tempor dignissim. Quisque posuere dolor nisi, et elementum nunc hendrerit in. Sed in nunc feugiat, fringilla justo quis, vulputate est. Integer porta metus dictum, egestas felis vel, faucibus felis. Fusce ullamcorper tempor libero id bibendum.

It looks like Latin — probably because it has its roots in Latin — but trust me, there is nothing Latin about it.

The Lorem Ipsum generator that I use is found at lipsum.com  This is a free site, and all you have to do is specify how many paragraphs, words, bytes or lists you want. The maximum number of words you can generate at a time is 10,000 words, but that's okay. Just copy and paste 5 times into the NaNoWriMo validator, and you have 50,000 words. Then update your word count to what you think it should be. It's that simple. Certainly no need to complicate matters any more than necessary.

The Handwritten Writer

I know of many writers who actually write their first drafts by hand. I will occasionally do this myself, especially if I've been struggling with a particular scene. For those who have handwritten manuscripts, there is no need to type that story into the computer to get a word count. The calculation is actually quite simple.

  1. Take an average page of writing and look for a line that has a typical number of words (a mixture of short and long words, using up the standard width of paper). Count the number of words on that line.
  2. Count the number of lines on the page.
  3. Multiply those two numbers together to give you the average number of words per page.
  4. Now count the number of pages that you have written.
  5. Multiply the number of pages by the average words per page to give you your total word count.

When it comes to validation, use a Lorem Ipsum generator. (See why I find those things so useful?)

The Editing Enigma

The purists of NaNoWriMo will insist that you aren't meant to do any editing whatsoever during the month of November; however, if you are like me, you often having looming deadlines, sometimes where money is involved. Regardless of why editing took over, there is no reason why you can't convert that editing time into a word count for NaNoWriMo.

There are two ways of doing this:

  1. Keep track of the number of solid hours of editing, then multiply this by your average work count per hour. It is a simple calculation; however, if you got distracted or focused too much on one sentence, then it might not be a true picture of what you edited.
  2. Alternatively, keep track of the number of hours that you edited a particular passage for. When you finish with that passage, also take note of its final word count. For every hour you spent editing that passage, take 30% of the final word count. Example: Say a passage was 1500 words (a respectable length for a chapter), and let's say that it took you 2 hours to edit that chapter. Then you would add 60% of 1500 words (i.e. 900 words) to your NaNoWriMo word counts. If that same passage took 4 hours to edit, then you add 120% of 1500 words (i.e. 1800 words). It might not be a true measure of what you would be capable of if you were just writing, but it might help with the guilt aspects. (It's this method that I employ when I editing during NaNoWriMo and CampNaNoWriMo.)

The Divided Creative Mind

As far as I'm concerned, NaNoWriMo is about dedicating yourself to your craft, but what if your craft is not just writing? What if you are an illustrator too? What if your NaNoWriMo project was a graphic novel? Should you miss out on the prizes because you were creating the images to go along with your story? Of course not! You might be a NaNoWriMo Rebel in the extreme, but you have dedicated your time and energies to the creative aspects of your brain, exactly like a pure writer has.

If this is you, you can convert your drawings (or whatever) to word counts by keeping track of the number of hours you spent, then multiplying that number by your average hourly word count for writing.

In all cases, the Lorem Ipsum generator will help you piece together something suitable for validation without driving you batty.

Is this cheating?

The purists of NaNoWriMo insist that only new writing projects count toward NaNoWriMo. However, for those who are NaNoWriMo Rebels, the only person who can really answer that question is YOU!

Events like NaNoWriMo and CampNaNoWriMo operate on the honesty system. If you decide to put in a word count that isn't reflective of the work you did, then the only one who suffers is you. No one is going to check on you to ensure that you have 50,000 words exactly. With the growing popularity of NaNoWriMo, the organizers would be insane to insist on such a thing. Even the validation process doesn't save your writing; it just checks word counts like MS Word works out word counts. (This is why Lorem Ipsum generators are a viable option for validation.)

The prizes for winners are typically discount codes to the sponsors' products. It makes no difference to the NaNoWriMo organizers if they give out 100,000 discount codes, or 10,000 or 100. At the start of the month, sponsors are told how many participants are active. They are expecting to have a percentage of those people, based on statistics from previous years, to take up the offers and purchase their products. For the sponsors, it's about drumming up business from a captive audience. The sponsor isn't going to care how you got that discount code; they just want your money.

As I've said on many occasions, NaNoWriMo is about dedicating yourself to your craft. The word count target is there because the organizers had to come up with some practical way of measuring success. What you have above is just a way in which you can count all aspects of your craft into your NaNoWriMo word counts, and in a sane manner.


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© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2017

Posted in General Advice, NaNoWriMo and tagged , , .

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