NaNoWriMo Day 26: The Impossible Dream?

Given the recent terror threats in Brussels, and the ridiculous amount I’ve had on at work, I could perhaps be forgiven for falling behind with my NaNo novel. Nonetheless it’s frustrating to be four days away from the end of the challenge feeling uncertain as to whether I will manage to complete it. I’ve had a good bash at translating my idea into a story, but along the way, as so often happens when you lack a solid plan, I’ve wandered off, allowing my characters to do exactly as they please, often with most unpleasing results. Still, in its current form my ‘novel’ (and I use that term in the loosest possible sense) stands at a not unimpressive 37,397 words – which is precisely 37,397 words more than I would have written had I note decided to partake in the challenge again. So I suppose whatever happens from here on in I should at least be proud of that. But now I’m so tantalisingly close to crossing the virtual finish line I’m not sure I can let it drop. Maybe four days is enough to cram in almost 13,000 words. Maybe this dream is not impossible. Maybe…Just maybe…

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Day 11/Day 12: The Hangover/Recovery

My good intentions to spend the Belgian public holiday novelling furiously from dawn to dusk were put paid by an over-enthusiastic booze-up the night before with two ex-colleagues. In the face of good company and fine wine I am utterly powerless to resist temptation, especially when there is the very real prospect of a lie-in. Needless to say, when I woke up at ten o’clock the next morning with a dehydration headache I was somewhat (read: very) disappointed by my lack of willpower. But nonetheless, and in the true spirit of NaNo, I pulled myself together enough to battle through, still managing a surprisingly impressive 3,000 words before the day was out, taking me just over my target. I can’t say it wasn’t painful, but I did it, and that’s what counts, right?

Today was another matter entirely. After a long day in the office I wasn’t holding out much hope for a decent writing session tonight, but after getting home, banging my knee so hard on the cupboard door I think the neighbours might have thought I was being murdered, and doing a twenty minute pilates workout on YouTube, I sat down and wrote non-stop for over an hour, easily managing my daily workout, and then a few hundred words to boot. It’s funny how that happens on the days you least expect it. It wasn’t my best work, I think that’s fair to say, but it sufficed in nudging the plot along a little, putting my main characters in a touch of strife and bringing them closer together in the process. So I’m taking that as a win. And I’m delighted to say I’ve broken the 20,000 word mark. Hooray! Nearly halfway. Take THAT week two. And they say you’re the worst of the lot. Not for this old soak. Cheers!

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NaNoWriMo Days 7 & 8 – Back on Track

It’s late, so I will be brief. In short, I’m back on track for a November 30th finish! Have pulled victory from the jaws of week one defeat, just in the nick of time, after an uber productive writing group today. Phew.

In other, possibly-NaNo-related news, I’ve had a tremendously productive weekend in other respects too, primarily in terms of getting a new hair colour (not, I suspect, all that easily detectable to the untrained eye, but exciting for me nonetheless), buying some Christmas presents (groan) and organising a baby shower.

I say possibly-NaNo-related with regard to the above because I really am wondering whether NaNo has a positive effect in other areas of my life besides my writing. In the past week I have felt more positive and capable than I have for some weeks, and this weekend has been a really calm and focused time, full of rewarding pursuits and positive reflections about what I want to achieve in my writing and in life in general.

I suppose the learning is to always have a tangible and (relatively) immediate goal, to never stop striving for that goal and to spend time every single day working towards achieving it. A lesson I will endeavour to remember long after my sixth NaNoWriMo has ended.

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NaNoWriMo Day 5 & 6 Update

Fuelled by the complacency of (almost) hitting my word target four days in a row, I happily allowed myself a lighter writing session on day five (what? It was a long day, I was tired – excuses ad infinitum). Despite feeling justified at the time, I am kicking myself today. Because, the fact is, week one of NaNo is about getting AS MANY WORDS DOWN AS POSSIBLE. I KNOW this, because I’ve done it several times before. According to Chris Baty in No Plot, No Problem (the edited version of which I have started re-reading to aid me along this attempt at the challenge) Week One is the fun part, when all the words come tumbling out and your characters are romping away. Week One’s evil twin, Week Two, is the bitch of the family, and by cutting myself some slack now I’ve played right into her cunning little hands.

The truth is, my characters were romping away, getting themselves into all sorts of scrapes without my even having to exert any influence. But all of a sudden, after yesterday’s pithy seven hundred words, the well of inspiration has run dry. Actually, that’s not true. It’s not inspiration that’s run dry, it’s my brain that has decided to down tools and stop. Take now for example. It is telling me, quite clearly, that it is Friday night at 9pm and I should, categorically and without question, be curled up on the sofa with a LARGE glass of Cab Sauv watching some heinously terrible TV programme. It does not, and let’s make no bones about it, wish to be sitting at the same computer it’s been sitting in front of all week, trying to make up stories about fictional people. In short, it’s just not having it.

So you see my dilemma. And even as I’ve been ruminating on this blog I have been switching over to the WIP, limping along with a broken stream of uninspired words, wishing my way to the word count target for today. And, to be fair, I have at least crossed the 8,000 mark, which feels like a bit of a milestone (until you consider I started today at 7,004 words). But it’s not flowing and I want with every fibre of my being just to stop and veg the hell out. ARGH. This is torture. But I SHALL NOT be defeated. I shall pour myself a glass of wine (hell, it IS Friday. I’m not a bloody saint) and plough on for just a little longer….

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NaNoWriMo Day Three: Finding Time

Every time I do NaNoWriMo it strikes me afresh how there seem to be more hours in a day in the month of November than in all the other months of the year. Clearly there are still almost never enough hours to fulfil my daily word count, or to do more than one important life task alongside said novelling challenge (wash self or wash clothes being a particularly tough dilemma), but still.

Take tonight, for example. I finished work at 6pm, went to the gym, sat down with the other half for dinner and  managed to bolster the word count up to a very respectable 4,441 words (taking me, I might add, to almost where I should be at this point – though still finishing, according to the doomsday NaNo counter, four days after deadline. Pah). All that before 10pm, leaving (just) enough time to squeeze in a cheeky episode of Sopranos before bed.

Granted, bedtime is later during NaNo month, but that alone doesn’t account for this feeling of extra time. When you’re up against the clock you are forced to use your time more effectively, pure and simple. The time I spend staring at inane posts on social media is, for example, vastly reduced in November. As is the time I spend staring forlornly at my ever growing to do list (because frankly there just isn’t time to do anything on that list this month, so I may as well not look at it).

So yes, this is a positive of NaNo and something I’d do well to remember the other eleven months of the year when I profess to be far too busy to do any writing at all. Tonight alone I’ve written 1,666 words as well as this blog. Proof it can be done. I might put a wash on to celebrate.

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No Pressure

It’s day 23 of National Novel Writing Month and, despite a flash stint this afternoon where I somehow managed to write two thousand words in about an hour, I’m still a rather woeful 5,165 words behind target. For some reason, however, I’m not feeling all that worried. I’ve got the best part of tomorrow and all of Monday to put the time in and, as I know from past experience, I work best under pressure so I’m confident I’ll manage to ‘win’ at NaNo once again and make it to 50,000 words before midnight on the 30th. The most encouraging thing is that despite struggling to find the time to get my word count up, I haven’t had a single moment of writer’s block since I started, which must surely be a good sign…?

In other news (yes, this is a boring update post – apologies to anyone who had grander designs in mind for today’s blog), the marathon training is coming on nicely. If – or should that be when – I complete tomorrow’s 105 minute run (gulp) I will have managed to tick off every session on this week’s plan, including a rather savage speed session on the treadmill this morning which I’m glad to have behind me. It’s still a long way off (this is only week three of a twenty week training plan) but my theory is if I put the ground work in now it’ll be a hell of a lot easier come the big day. Though something tells me when it comes to running a marathon there’s nothing ‘easy’ about it…

NaNo Day 5 update: The onset of insanity

To sum up today in two words I would use the following: unbelievably manic. Lunchtime came and went without a break, and by five o’clock it had become apparent I would struggle to achieve my daily word count for NaNo unless I not only gave up any intention of fulfilling the obligatory exercise quota for day two (two!! Talk about failing at the first – well, second, hurdle) of my marathon training plan, but also stayed in the office to write aforementioned NaNo story rather than going home before tonight’s fireworks display in Brockwell Park. I shall, therefore, remain at work for another hour with the sole intention of bashing out as many words as I can so that I might just have a guilt-free (lack of exercise aside) night out.

This, friends, is a typical day in the life of a NaNo-er; clawing back minutes here and there to pad out an ill-thought out story that even by day five (of thirty!) seems to be falling apart. Not that I will let this stop me, for I have been in this position before. Thus far I’ve been half-hearted in my attempt at fitting writing into my life, but from this point forward the metaphorical gloves are off. It’s not good enough to write in dribs and drabs, writing sessions must be sustained and productive. I KNOW this, but now I need to make the effort to ENFORCE it.

Despite our love-hate relationship, writing is my baby. And nobody puts baby in a corner.