Maggie Wells · Margaret Ethridge · writing advice

Now’s the time to add the pad!

Many of us are engaged in the annual National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge at the moment – the one where a bunch of nutjobs like myself commit themselves to writing fifty thousand words in thirty days. This is my seventh NaNoWriMo, and I have to say, though it isn’t for everyone, I find this kind of challenge reinvigorates my writing.


This year I participated in Author Robyn Bachar‘s month-long NaNoWriMo prep blog-a-thon in October. Each day, Robyn shared a post from authors who had completed NaNo before and their tips and tricks for getting to the finish line. I thought I’d share some of my piece on padding your word count in case it might be of help to anyone.

Good luck to all who are participating!


A Little Extra Padding

Autumn is in full swing now. It’s my favorite time of year—the air is crisp, the leaves are turning, and it’s finally soup season! I may have a bit of a soft spot for autumn because it allows me to indulge my natural homebody tendencies without guilt. I’ve stocked up on Cheez-Its. The freezer is full and slow cooker ready. The hubby knows what’s coming…

I’m settling in for NaNoWriMo.

Thirty glorious days of literary abandon. Every year about this time, I pluck a fresh plot bunny from the hutch, check my inner editor at the door (that’s what December is for), and prepare to get down to some serious word-making.

I never think of myself as much of a writing expert, but when Robyn said she was looking for someone who could share some NaNoWriMo tips and tricks, I knew this was one topic I could address. 2015 will be my seventh go at NaNo. I’ve completed the challenge (but not the book!) in each of my previous six attempts.

The most important thing I’ve learned over the years? A little extra padding goes a long way.

Now, I’m not talking about personal padding, though the Cheez-Its comment above probably painted a pretty accurate picture for you. An extra pillow on your favorite writing chair can’t hurt, either. But I’m really saying that you should pad your word count.
As a writer who works 40+ hours per week in addition to my publishing commitments, I know how quickly things get out of hand. I also know how easy it is to get saggy in the middle (Again, not a Cheez-Its reference, but it could apply). And damn near butt-dragging at the end.
We all know we need 1667 words per day to cross the 50k mark. But let’s be honest. It’s hard to write that much every day. There are some days when your head is fuzzy with a cold, or the laundry pile is in danger of toppling over. Or the day job zaps every last ounce of energy you had in reserve. My hubby and I both celebrate November birthdays. Our families expect us to show up for Thanksgiving.

All in all, I’d say there are at least 5-7 days out of those precious thirty when I know I won’t produce a thing. That means I need 2k+ per day. And then there are the days when the words won’t come…

The best advice I can give for successfully meeting your goal is to hit it hard at the start. Don’t stop when you reach that day’s goal. If the words are flowing, go with it. Bank them. If you work a non-writing job, use your weekends like a warrior on a mission so the weekdays are a little lighter.

Use your gung-ho. You can do this!

And if you’re one of those people motivated by the carrot, the following titles all started as NaNoWriMo projects:

  • Contentment – Turquoise Morning Press
  • Commitment – Turquoise Morning Press
  • Inamorata – Turquoise Morning Press
  • Nabbing Mr. November – Turquoise Morning Press
  • Daring Miss December – Turquoise Morning Press
  • A Will and a Way (coming June 2016) – Lyrical Press

This year, I’ll be finishing the second half of the third book in the Coastal Heat series for Lyrical Press and starting book two in the Wolcott Warrior series for Samhain Publishing.

Got your project(s) picked out?




2 thoughts on “Now’s the time to add the pad!

  1. Such enthusiasm! You are an awesome, astounding and energetic motivator! I know you will finish. Go Mags!! I’ll be your cheering section. Nano Wrimo gives me heart attacks. I admire all of you for doing it. The one year I did it I thought I would die at the end.

  2. Thank you! You know I’m all about the challenge, Jeannene. I know 50k is not for everyone, but I do believe everyone can set a goal and go for it. Go write! Write like the wind!

Comments are closed.