On Word Count Writing Contests


Yeah, ok. I have a peeve with these. Just so’s you know. Why?

Because every time someone mentions one to me, I have flashbacks to that horrifying scene in The Shining (the movie), where Wendy comes down the stairs, sees Jack’s not around, goes to his writing table and thumbs through a box of what she expects is a manuscript for a novel.

It’s not.

It’s pages and pages of the same words, over and over, typed different ways, but always the same words, in the same order. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

As Jack asks, “Like it?”

Scariest scene in the entire movie. Aka “Jack doesn’t live here any more.”

I know successful authors who do these as a personal challenge, just to see if they can. After MUCH reworking, something good sometimes falls out of it, but I’ve never heard of anyone doing this sort of megawriting contest and taking their results straight into publication, unless they do self-publishing. They do not, in any case, submit the raw manuscript they started with.

The average publisher doesn’t care if you got the word count before the deadline. They will  ALWAYS favor quality over quantity.

If you want to challenge yourself by trying one of these, that’s awesome. I’m sincere about that. I could never try one of these things because my brain simply does not work that way. If you have the focus, intent, and speed, chances are you’ll meet your goal.

Just please do not consider your completion of that goal an automatic step to publication.


2 thoughts on “On Word Count Writing Contests

  1. My take on the annual November writing spurt, known to most authors as NaNoWriMo is that the author produces a novel that requires a lot of editing and revising once you’ve received the much vaunted certificate. I did participate in NaNo, as it’s called, for many years. Most of the books I finished there have been published. Only one still needs work. That being said, I quit NaNoWriMo after the 2013 competition.


    Because the whole point of NaNoWriMo is that the authors, on their honor, begin and finish a novel of at least 50,000 words in that 30 day period. We also interact with other competitors. The only real prize is your completion certificate and the satisfaction of having done what most call impossible.

    Why did I quit after 2013? Because on the last day, when I was downloading my certificate, I checked the rankings, to see where I stood in the word count. After all, you’ve just sweated out the month working hard to finish your work. You sure want to see who wrote the longest book. I’d been astounded in the previous couple of outings, because people got novels of 250,000 words completed. My thoughts were that they must not have a husband and children. That year, 2013, I saw 2 authors who signed on on the last day, and uploaded their novels for verification. Not unusual. What was unusual and very off putting was that these people had to write at least 23.2 words per minute or approximately 33,408 words per hour. That’s all day long, all month long. There would be no time to get away from the computer to eat, use your bathroom, relax, even sleep. You would have to be a robot to accomplish this, because a human being cannot go without sleep or eating for that long a period of time.

    When people questioned the validity of these books, their concerns were ignored. That’s when I made the decision to test myself during November, to see if I can still produce a book. No pressure to finish. Most years, I still do complete my work before the end of the month. That works for me. I get a great book done, but I will not do so through NaNoWriMo again. Because it’s impossible for a human being to complete a book of over a million words in a single 30 day period. It’s just not going to happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s