HOW I FINISH WRITING 50K WORDS FOR NANOWRIMO IN 3-4 DAYS by Zubin Garda

Since the last three years, Wrimo Zubin Garda has been completing his 50,000 words by the second or third day of NaNoWriMo. All have congratulated him, some with a tinge of envy and most with an incomprehension, wishing for some answers.

The cat is now out of the bag. Here’s Zubin, as he reveals to us his secret method (hint: it involves a LOT of writing):

HOW I FINISH WRITING 50K WORDS FOR NANOWRIMO IN 3-4 DAYS

I have been doing NaNoWriMo since 2013. Every year, I complete my novel (aka 50000 words) in only 3-4 days. It gets a lot of compliments, a few surprised faces and a rare few, with whom I’ve shared how I do the same, slapping their thighs as enlightenment dawns and shouting “A-ha!”

What I would like to do today, is share with you, dear reader, how I do this. Remember, this is how *I* do it. As always, your mileage may vary (but I doubt too much).

Firstly, there are no secrets. No magic formulae. Yes, there is a dependency on a particular piece of software. Other than that, anyone can do it.

So, rather than sound all preachy and patronizing, without further ado, here’s how I do it:

1) I take NanoWriMo seriously. Very seriously. Just how seriously? Well, every year, I take leave from my day job to work on writing the novel for a full week. Yes, I take leave for a full week, just to focus on writing the novel.

2) Wait a minute, did I say “writing the novel”? Actually, I don’t write novels. I don’t type them either. All this is done using Dragon Naturally Speaking (a speech recognition program). What, you’re still WRITING and TYPING those huge chunks of paragraphs instead of dictating them to your butler (ahem…your PC)? On a good day, I’m blowing around 110-120 words per minute. On a bad day, I’m clocking around 80-95 words per minute. Since any day is good and bad combined, I hit around 100 words per minute as a long-term average. Human beings are built evolutionarily such that the rate at which you speak, is EXPONENTIALLY higher to the rate of typing. Speaking is in Human DNA. Typing, well, you get the idea. So, an average speaker, will ALWAYS overtake even the world’s fastest typist. It’s simply the way humans were meant to be. Makes sense to speak to the PC then, rather than type it out, does it not?

3) I dictate only 3 sessions, for 2 hours each, every day. Sounds trivial. Until you see an average of 100 words per minute * 60 minutes = 6000 words per hour. Multiply that by 2 hours, I get 12000 words in one session. 3 sessions, so 12000 * 3 = 36000 words per day! That means I can finish my novel in 2 days flat! But, reality intervenes. It’s impossible to dictate even 100 words per minute continuously for 2 hours straight. Plus, even though I dictate in 2 hours sessions each (with 3-5 hours rest between each session), I still don’t have the discipline to bang it out for 2 hours straight. All this makes me type at around 70 words per minute. Which, you can calculate and get 70 * 60 minutes = 4200 words per hour. Which means 4200 * 2 = 8400 words per session. 3 sessions means around 8400 * 3 = 24900 (approx. 25000 words per day). THAT would also allow me to hit the target in 2 days, but again, I don’t REALLY sit for a FULL 2 HOURS per 3 sessions. You know, email, food, TV, surfing etc. right in the middle of my sessions’ two hours also. (I know, I know, I take breaks, but hey, cut me some slack here, I’m only human). The point here is not to tell you how much to write, but to give you the understanding of the full power of the speed of dictation, instead of typing/writing words.

4) Outside? Visiting someone you don’t want to? Wife dragging you out for shopping? Well, whenever I am outside, and have a quiet moment for myself, I open my ANDROID phone’s voice recorder (hey, iPhone works too!) and record my story. Right there. Yes, RIGHT THERE, outside, without my PC. When I come back, the recording, saved as a .Mp3 file is IMPORTED into Dragon. And Dragon magically TRANSCRIBES it to words! No need to re-type and re-dictate things again!

5) Next, remember, its called the novel WRITING month. Emphasis on the word WRITING. So I plan, outline (around 15-17 pages), do research and build up GSU (Goals, Stakes and Urgency) and simple character sketches BEFORE I sit on my PC to dictate. Ditto with the novel’s THEME and CONCEPT.

6) Finally my sainted family ensures I am not disturbed during the 3 writing sessions of 2 hours each during the day. And though this is not an absolute requirement, it does help tremendously.

7) Dragon Naturally Speaking. Available in normal and Premium. Hits around INR 10500/- ballpark. You can buy it. Or, there are “other” avenues (wink-wink).

So, as you see, there are no alchemical solutions to manufacture, nor the need to search the world for secrets. Simple mathematics and the power of dictation and help you blow past the month of November as if it didn’t exist. 🙂

However, as a final ode, remember I do all my planning, outlining, researching and building up of the GSU in LONG HAND. Yeah, you read that right. I take my fountain pen, a 400 page notebook and begin conceptualizing. Sometimes as early as middle of September. The advantage? I never run out of words to say or get to stare at a blank page wondering what to write next.

So, what’s your recentest wordcount? 😉

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About soniaraowrites

A lover of life and a writer by passion I live in the busiest of cities, Mumbai, which gives me innumerable opportunities to observe people and learn more about life; and then share this knowledge.

11 thoughts on “HOW I FINISH WRITING 50K WORDS FOR NANOWRIMO IN 3-4 DAYS by Zubin Garda

  1. Thanks for sharing this , Zubin. I still do type but I think for NaNoWriMo I shall invest in Dragon. My mom had used it earlier while writing her book and it worked well for her.

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