Halfway through… It’s not easy, but it is worth it…

November 19, 2015 at 2:01 am (NaNoWriMo, Writing) (, )

nano_25000I can’t believe day 15 is done, and I’m halfway through NaNoWriMo… I stayed up too late again, and blitzed through two thousand words in a slightly delirious state, to hit 25,095 words by midnight of the halfway mark. Hooray!

I’m not sure how much sense they all make, or how many of these words will end up in the book, but I’m making progress, and that’s the point of this writing challenge. To write, without stressing myself out with editing as I go, or worrying about the perfect sentence structure, or even knowing where the story begins and where it ends.

Each of my writing days has covered a different part of my main character’s life – I figure that by the end of the month I’ll have worked out what needs to be in the book and what doesn’t, and will be able to move the chapters around so they make some kind of sense.

I won’t lie, it hasn’t been easy to write 1667 words a day. Many days I’ve wanted to throw my notebook across the room and give up. Sometimes I’d rather collapse on the couch and watch Arrow with my hubby than banish myself to my little purple office and painstakingly type out a bunch of words. There are nights that I get home from 12 hours at the magazines and would rather crawl into bed than force myself to stay awake and type in my hastily scrawled words from the bus, then add some more to hit the target. Most days I would much prefer to curl up and read a book than torture myself trying to write one.

I also spend most of the month thinking that my story is boring, there’s no point, it’s too much effort, no one cares anyway, and why am I bothering… Apparently, according to my hubby, I wrestle with these particular demons with every book, and my doubts seem to increase, rather than diminishing, the more books I write.

But, I do it anyway. I tell the “it’s boring” and “you’re useless” voices in my head to shut up, and force myself to get at least 1200 words a day done (while aiming for 2000 to average out the crappier days). If at the end I decide it’s crap, I can ditch it. Or rewrite until I’m happy with it.

Because it’s only thirty days. Thirty days is nothing. It’s half of one of my workout programs. One moon cycle. Four episodes of Arrow. You can do anything for thirty days. And at the end of that I will have fifty thousand words of a novel, which is way easier to work with and improve than a blank page is…

Life’s short. I want to live it with no regrets, and no excuses. Two years from now will I wish I’d spent more time on the couch watching superhero shows this month, or getting to bed a bit earlier, or will I be happy that I knuckled down and hit my word count targets and had the first draft of my next book finished…

Like most things that are worth doing, it’s not easy, but it is possible, and it is worth it…

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Happy Day 5 of NaNoWriMo!

November 5, 2015 at 1:00 am (NaNoWriMo, News and updates, Writing) (, , , )

nanoI can’t believe it’s already day 5 of NaNoWriMo*!

Four days of writing done, and 7333 words committed to paper, which means I have 665 words up my sleeve for one of those days that is more of a struggle 🙂 It fascinates me, how some days are easier – well, less difficult might be more accurate – than others, and it’s rarely the days I expect. On Monday I was at my day job at the magazines for 10.5 hours straight, but I still managed to write 2085 words – on the bus to and from work, in a few moments snatched as I waited for a meeting to start, while I quickly ate my lunch at my desk and typed a few words in, and then in a sprint after dinner that ended at midnight (the curfew I’m trying to impose so I can function the next day). Then on Tuesday, one of my days to work at home, I only managed 1333. Granted I went to a movie screening (He Named Me Malala, which was hearthbreaking, inspiring, devastatingly sad and wonderful all at once), walked 20,000 steps on top of my Body Pump workout, and spent the afternoon with a friend, but it seems I am often more productive the busier I am, and more easily distracted the more time I have…

I have stopped panicking quite so much though – this year NaNoWriMo started on a Sunday, and while I planned (hoped?) to get my words written early so I had the rest of the day free to hang out with my hubby, the bulk of them were written between 10pm and midnight, so I may as well have just given myself a break and enjoyed the day, knowing I would hit my minimum word count before bed… I guess it’s all just a learning process, about what works for you, when you’re most productive and how you react to deadlines.

I will also admit, as a life-long panster (the opposite of a planner and a plotter, as in writing by the seat of your pants, without an outline), that when I opened a blank document on Sunday, I panicked. There was a moment of fear, of what-the-hell-have-I-gotten-myself-into, of what-on-earth-am-I-going-to-write? But as my patient and long-suffering hubby pointed out, I think that with every book. (Along with this-is-so-boring, this-is-so-sh*t, who-would-want-to-read-this, I-can’t-write-to-save-myself etc etc etc)… Eventually I just took a deep breath and started to write. And write.

Not all of the words I wrote that day, or any of these thirty days, will end up in the finished book. While the published version of Into the Mists was pretty similar to my original draft, the next two were not – I wrote quite a few chapters that were cut altogether, especially with Into the Dark, killed off one character before he was even introduced, and changed one storyline all together. But none of that could have happened if I hadn’t written at least 50,000 words each November. After all, you can always edit a bad page, but you can’t edit a blank one, and you can always rewrite and add chapters and change the entire structure of an existing manuscript, but you need something to start with…

On which note, I’d better start writing for day five!

* National Novel Writing Month – the writing challenge that sets a target of 50,000 words of a novel written in thirty days. It’s how I wrote the first drafts of Into the Mists, Into the Dark and Into the Light – and how I will write at least two Into the Mists Chronicles – the tough deadline seems to work for me…

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