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The Blog

This is where I write about what it feels like to try and write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

And of course

The more time I spend here

The more excuses I have

For not having written a 50,000 word novel in 30 days

To go to the posts, just click on the titles of the extracts below.

“And why do we fall, Bruce? ”

When Bruce Wayne was a child he fell down a well.

When his father finally found him and rescued him, he asked

“And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up”

NaNoWriMo is a well I’ve fallen into.

It’s clear now that I will not have a 50,000 word first draft of a novel done by the end of November. I have 7 days left and I have written about 12,000 words. If I can make that 17,000  by the end of the month I will count it an achievement.

Improv writing? But isn’t it supposed to be a thriller?

In principle, the novel I’m trying to write should be very plot driven. It’s a Sci Fi thriller kind of thing with all the action compressed into a couple of weeks. So you’d think I’d kinda need to know what happens next. Except I don’t. At least not exactly.

Once upon a time, in a far distant life, I used to do some improvised drama. I’d know who I was supposed to be and broadly the situation I was in and the rest sort of happened.

It seems to me that some part of my brain had given each character a slightly different improv brief. Each of them knows something different about the situation. Not all of them are being open about their motivation. Only some of them know each other.

Opening A Vein

Nan gave me some excellent advice in one of her comments on this blog. She said:

Mike, Nanowrimo is not about going back and editing; it’s called the dirty first draft for a reason. You’re supposed to be exploring the stories of your characters, just pushing ahead as hard as you can, when you can. If one thread isn’t panning out, then move on to another one. Feel free to write out of order.

You have some very interesting characters  and they might get into some situations that you ultimately don’t use in the finished novel, but don’t let that stop you from writing them. I think of it as “opening a vein.” Just don’t think about it too much.

So that’s what I did. I’ve just written 1,450 word in a chapter called “The Empath Less Travelled By”. It’s not the next chapter in the sequence but it’s where my emotions where at. I wanted to understand more about Elodie and her relatioship with Cassandra and what she knows about the Director of the SCP.


So now it’s getting harder

No new chapters this weekend. I needed to take some time out and have a life.

The next two weeks at work are scarily busy.

I’m already wondering if I started the novel in the wrong place and need to go back and fix it.

These are all flavours of the reasons why I’ve never written a novel before.

I’m hoping that NaNoWriMo will give me enough of a push to keep going anyway. Afterall, 50,000 words is a shortish novel, right.

5 Good Things From My First 4 Days of NaNoWriMo 2011

NaNoWriMo challenges you to write a 50,000 word novel from scratch in the 30 days of November. That means producing an average of 1,600 words a day, every day for a month. I’m on Day 4 (and smug about being slightly ahead of schedule) and I’ve already discovered a few things that make me glad I decided to do this insane thing.

Train Writing – NaNoWriMo Day 1

I used to tell myself that I simply didn’t have enough time to write.

It’s not a bad excuse. My job takes up 50+ hours a week, often with 10+ hours of travelling on top. Plus I’d like to spend time with my wife. And even I have to sleep sometime.

But it is still an excuse.

It seems that what I need is focus as well as time. I need to be keeping the story in my head when I’m not writing, a bit like those exercises they give to highschool kids in the US, where they have to carry a baby substitute around all day so that they’ll understand what a burden a child would be. Personally I think they’d be better of giving sex education advice and offering contraceptives to those that want them, but I digress. The point is that I need to keep the story alive long enough for me to get it on the page and that takes focus.

No plan. No outline. No problem?

I signed up at nanowrimo.org today. As part of the registration process, they asked me what my novel was called and what it is about. This is not a unreasonable request, given that we have less than two days to go before I start writing, but I was disappointed at my own answer.

Getting ready to jump – looking into the NaNoWriMo abyss

I’ve been struggling to write recently. My time seems not to be my own. I wake up each day already late for something. Yet experience tells me that I write best when I’m writing under pressure. Put me in a quiet office with the whole day ahead of me and the screen remains blank. Put me on a plane or train with an hour to fill before I’m back at work and the words start to flow.

So, I’ve decided to jump-start my writing by attempting the NaNoWriMo challenge of writing a novel in a month and blogging about it as I go along.

It’s insane really.

To reach the 50,000 word limit, I have to write more words in a day than I usually manage in a week.

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