Monday, 29 November 2010

Where Did November Go?

It’s been a while since my last blog and the reason is National Novel Writing Month. I had meant to blog on my progress stage by stage but even though I completed the required 50,000 words last year, I did not anticipate how much time it would take me to complete the challenge.
And completed it I have, I'm glad to say. This year I was a little more organised and plotted out some of the story during October, got to know my characters and did some research.

This included reading some novels in my genre – chick lit (which was such a hardship – not!) and reading these two books which were invaluable. Together they really gave me a good angle on where I wanted to go with my novel and some pointers on how to get there.

A very big thank you to these authors for their invaluable advice.

I began the month on good form and the words literally flowed from my fingertips. Changing my approach from being a pantster to being a plotter really seemed to work. But then during week 2 I began to panic as I approached the precipice and realised that during October I had run out of time and consequently run out of plot. Then my task became a little more difficult.

I decided that I would find some time in advance of each writing session to do some more plotting so I would know exactly where I was going when I came fresh to my keboard.

Time is a pesky little creature I found, as elusive as riches so I had to return to my original mode of writing by making up the plot as I went along – a somewhat more scary business.

I found that I could not find much time to write at the weekends when family took over my life so I tried to write 2,000 words a day, scribbled into sections wherever I had a slot. Its not the best way to write but sometimes needs must.

By the end of week two I was struggling; searching forever for that elusive half way mark. Reaching that was like sweating blood but eventually I reached the crest of the hill and cheered from the top.

The ascent was much easier at first – I positively galloped over the 30,000 mark and thought that my troubles were all in the past. But then I really did run out of plot. A little nugget of advice came to me from long ago and I put in something dramatic. The rest of the plot slipped in after that with some new twists and turns which I don’t think would have come to me if I had been trying to plot in advance.

By 40,000 I was whizzing ahead and finished today, a day early with over 51,000 words.

I’ve still got some way to go until I reach the end but I’m determined to keep going. Another piece of advice – write every day – has proved itself to me again. Its so much easier to pick up the thread of the day before when there’s no long time gap in between and also because I knew the next day I would be sitting down to write, flashes would come to me when I was in the car or shivering on a football field as my boys played a match. That doesn’t happen if you leave it too long and that – I think – is where writer’s block comes from – fear of not knowing where you’re going next.

I also met some new people on line and because there as a new region in my area this year, a few writers who I’m aiming to meet up with in the flesh and who will hopefully become writing buddies. Seeing their wordcount going up day by day has spurred me on to up my count too, so perhaps I wouldn’t have done it without them. So thank you to you too.

Now I’m over half way through a very, very rough first draft but as you can’t edit a blank page I’m chuffed.

I can’t continue at the same pace though – especially not in the run up to Christmas but I’m going to set myself a challenge of writing 1,000 words every weekday and by the end of the year I hope to be so much further on and to be gaining momentum.

It’s a plan anyway. Then I will go back to Love Writing and See Jane Write, reread them and then start to revise. Also, for anyone who had just finished the first draft of a novel December’s Writing Magazine has a fantastic article by Sophie King on revision. Definitely one to rip out and look at next year when I’ve got that first draft on the page.

So that’s my plan for December – and perhaps no I’ll have more time to blog too. Thank you NaNoWriMo – I finally feel like I’ve got my MoJo back.
What method of writing works best for you?

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Yesterday I was poleaxed with a really bad headache – not a great start for NaNoWriMo, but I managed to redeem myself later.

Having two young children doesn’t go hand in hand with illness so usually I drag myself out of bed and just get on with it no matter how bad I’m feeling.

But yesterday it was impossible, I just felt as though my whole head was being crushed in a vice.

Fortunately, hubby was around so he was able to take the boys to school. They were a little concerned though because they are not used to seeing me take to my bed. I reassured them that it was just a headache and I would probably be OK to pick them up later.

By the afternoon I was feeling a little better, mainly thanks to super strength pain killers, but as hubby called in from work he offered to pick them up while I pottered gently around the house.

I managed to pull myself together enough to take the boys to their swimming lessons but afterwards was exhausted so went for another little lie down.

At bedtime my youngest was worried but I reassured him that after a good night’s sleep I would be back on form. Quite rightly he pointed out that I had said that I would be OK to pick them up from school but I hadn’t. Cue guilt complex!

Later the older one asked me if bad headaches could cause brain damage. Nice one I didn’t think I was acting that badly. When I said no he answered:

“But you’ve had a bad headache today and earlier you forgot something.”

I was tempted to tell him that that happens as you get older or when you’re juggling so many things at once that you’re bound to let something slip but instead I asked, “What did I forget?”

His answer was “I can’t remember.”

Can’t win can you?