Monday, October 12, 2009

Nanwrimo Prep!

We're fast approaching November and the fun that is Nanowrimo. This year I coined a new term: Nanogasp: that sudden jolt you get at the end of September when you forget about October and think #nanowrimo is a week away.

I'm better now, thanks.

What I love about Nanowrimo is all the "meta-wrimo" stuff. The blogging and outlining and plot-agonizing and twittering. I love the "Are you doing nano this year?" and the "What's your main character's biggest fear?" I love that I have an automated Python script that writes a status line to the CMD window every second. I used this for the first NaNo. I've made a few updates to the script each year. That's the fun part. The current version of the script provides 4 methods of status output:

  • A CMD window status. The status info includes:

    • Words per day/days remaining (but it includes the current day, so really the number is deceptively low)

    • Percent complete. Every 500 words is 1%

    • Amount of time ahead of or behind pace.

    • Number of words ahead/behind of pace car (running total) changes every x seconds (x = 6, I think)

    • Word count

    • Delta for midnight total. Similar to number of words ahead/behind pacecar, but rather than pacecar, it's the amount you should have at 11:59 that night, and it goes down by 1667 at midnight. Zero or a positive number means you're done for the day, if you're shooting for 1667 per day.

  • Log file output. This is the status line, pipe delimited, with the date/time prepended.

  • Web page update. A friend hosts a web page where a group of us check in with our word counts. The script updates that page with the word count once an hour.

  • Twitter.

    • The script sends a message like the following to my twitter account at noon and midnight: 'Nanowrimo Update: 1234 (#nanowrimo)'

    • Also added for 2008 is a histogram. The script makes a histogram twice a day and then compares the two. Words showing up for the first time are singled out and one is randomly selected to be posted to twitter with a message like 'badgerpendous just used the word "taco" for first time' or similar.

    • Twitters the last hour's progress if the wordcount > threshold. For example if I type, say, 900 words in an hour, a twitter entry is sent. But not for a low number like 300. Depends on the value, currently hard coded...

While I do love the fall, and pumpkin-gettin' with my kids, the real fun is getting ready to write!


  1. I'd be really interested in getting a copy of that script to look at. What language is it in?

  2. Python. Happy to send it, let me know.