Archive for December, 2011

Surviving NaNoWriMo

Posted: December 13, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Well that’s another year’s worth done with. This brings me up to four in a row, but for some reason this one felt like the hardest of the lot. Not quite sure why.

This year was weirdly tricky. Time off wasn’t a problem, but strangely, motivation was. This year’s efforts were in fact saved by a 6000 word marathon the weekend before to catch up the deficit. Thanks to that, I just managed to crawl over the line on the last day.

Why it was so tricky, I have no idea. With the first two years, I deliberately attempted to step out of my writing comfort zone. My NaNoWriMo experience in 2008 was against the backdrop of a redundancy, and was hugely challenging for different reasons, but that just kind of made me even more determined, and gave me something to do for the run of several days where I in fact had literally nothing to do at work. The brief was, ‘write that vampire story you’ve never quite been brave enough to do.’ Any vampire story. Done. Checked off the list.  I am dreading redrafting that one so much that I have allowed nobody to look at it so far – and haven’t dared myself so far! It was all about the word count.

2009; ‘try a spy novel with a twist’. Went a little off brief with that one, but liked the main protagonist I got to play with a lot. Those two allowed for plenty of rambling or at the very least, monologues because they were written in the first person. I personally find this the quickest way to get a word count up quickly, but I changed it up for 2010, where the brief was ‘make a start on that epic fantasy series you were thinking about’. Actually, that ended up going pretty well. I managed to get a personal best of 65k, and that was very much third-person. What I had there was my own world, which mostly worked well in my head at least and provided enough momentum to get the early aspects of the story out there. I have SO much more to tell when I finally got around to it, but it is the only one of my stories in which I have had to draw a(n incomplete) map – unless you count the map of Grenshall Manor (central to the adventures of three characters I have wandered around  with since uni) I have annoyingly since lost since my last house move and this one. It will be reborn on subsequent redrafts – it’s not like I don’t plan to go back there with the story and characters after all…

So, crawling through the motivation barrier, NaNoWriMo was the exact challenge I was in need of at the time and has given me a piece of work I’m delighted with in some ways, aware requires plenty of work in others. But that’s great – having 50 plus thousand words that weren’t there at the start of the month is reward enough. And there was something I took to heart from my regional inbox pep talk, which I shall quote below:

“Whether you wrote 500, 5,000 or 50,000 words this month. That is more words than you had on October 31st. Whether you finished your novel or didn’t, you are further on in writing it than you were a month ago. You are now in possession of something unique, something that no one else has. Something that you created. Something that is yours. “

On a personal note, there were other small victories. Thanks to Maz, Kara and Jen, I now have a road trip between France, Italy and Spain that I kind of fancy doing myself. If nothing else it looks cool, but on top of that, it would be nice to see things for myself; not just relying on Google Maps, Wikipedia etc. That said, these things are one hell of a blessing for any writer who needs to know ‘real world’ stuff in a hurry.

So what next? Well, I am determined to finish at least one of those Facebook short stories this side of Christmas – and it has to be said this may currently be a bigger race against time than NaNoWriMo. The basic idea behind the one I want to do first is solid enough in my head, but it doesn’t quite want to choose one route or other just now. Hopefully, we shall soon fix that, because all seven tales have to have one linking point, which I have already determined. The other important thing to do is to get some reading in. It’s been a little slow going of late as well, which is wrong, because my reading list grows by the day, with my friends to thank for much of that. And after that, I shall need to do the other half of November’s challenge. I also have to make a progress report on another wonderful challenge set for me by friends.

To all of you in similar positions after November 30, I wish you the best of luck and look forward to reading your work one day.