NaNoWriMo 2009 – The Conclusion

So NaNoWriMo 2009 has come and gone, with much heartache, sleepless nights, sore hands, etc, etc…

I have a confession to make – I didn’t finish. This year was not mine for the sweet smell of success. I peaked at 25,000 words (a quarter of my original target). To say I’m disappointed in myself would be an understatement – but equally, I’m not ashamed. Indeed, in many ways I’m quite happy, and proud of myself, during the final weekend, I finally learned to accept I can’t write all the time. I want to, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes there is no way round the fact that without will, inspiration is relegated to frustration.

I really really don’t like failing, but I could have pushed in that final weekend, and pushed, but I would never have hit even the modest target of 50,000, and even if I had. Instead I took a break, having accepted defeat, let go of the pressure – I felt wonderful. So immediately following my return home, I started writing again. Nice and smoothly, and without much effort. In fact I’ve had some late nights, because the writing has being going so well, and I wasn’t aware of the time.

I’m not finishing off my NaNoWriMo project for now, I’ve put it to one side, as my imagination is caught with  a sequel to my previous NaNoWriMo attempt (the one I won last year).

Just shows you, sometimes pressure helps, and other times it hinders – I think for me it’s the accumalative pressures I found myself under with family life, work, money, and writing, it made for some unsurmountable obstacles. Until I let go, and found away to enjoy myself away from the pressure.

NaNoWriMo – Week 2

So we’re now in week 3, I figured I’d reflect on week 2 briefly, as I did week one.

I can sum up my NaNoWriMo experience this year so far in one phrase:

“Off course”

Life keeps interfering in my writing, last week I didn’t write anything until the weekend, for which I have plenty of excuses, legitimate ones, but only one person to blame – yours truly.

My goal of writing 100,000 has slipped to a remote chance, and I have to accept that, and I do so, with much sadness. 50,000 is starting to slip away too. I know I like brinkmanship, but I really need to find some gumption and get on with writing.

Did manage some writing on Sunday, at the Leeds café meet, but then I decided when I got home to concentate on fixing my netbook. This is less procrastination, and more a practical act. I’ve been trying to use my 17″ laptop to do my novel on, however it was bought for media and not typing, I didn’t pay any attention to the keyboard – as it turned out, aside from being impractical to carry round with me, it was truly awful to write on. Now the netbook is a go, it’s portable, and I feel quite comfortable typing on it (in fact it’s what I used for NaNoWrimo last year), all being well, I can increase the time I can get writing done.

Last year I utilised time on buses, probably was only a few thousand words, but every little helps. Plus now I can easily just turn up at a café and write. The world is my literary oyster once more.

So, for now the aim is 50,000 words by the end of the month, and though I’m behind, I am definately confident of achieving that when we reach the 30th November.

Just to be sure, I’m booking myself a little getaway for the final weekend of the month, a few days in Ilkley to concentrate on writing without the distractions of everyday life, just what the doctor ordered.

NaNoWriMo 2009 – An Update 10/11/2009

Well we’re now into week 2 of NaNoWriMo, and I managed to resolve my problems that came about at the end of last week. I say temporarily, because despite introducing a brand spanking new character, to whom I switched to, so I could imply the extent of the problem with my protaginist, without gettimg bogged down in detail, (and the logic of how long healing should take), I still wrote in the troubles just later in the process.

Two thousand words dropped for nowt, and probably another thousand to erase the second mistake.

I do have a plan though, and it is a cunning plan, go back again and undo the difficulties, limit the protaginists psychological difficulties (which are what would take too long in the time wise to deal with), but keep the secondary character. Kind of a sidekick to help out my protaginist through the couple of days recovery he needs (I’ve also undone shooting him in the legs, and instead had the bullet nick his brachial artery).

This should mean my character is less on his own, and has more interaction, and I can up the humour a bit. I’d much rather my characters were funny people than the narrative, or situations. Gallows humour is good, especially in procedural crime writing.

So, recovery is in sight – but I do have some monster writing sessions between now and this Saturday. Which is fine, I don’t mind the pressure, it’s only when deadlines become tight that I really put my foot on the gas and blast those monster wordcounts out. I had hoped this year woukd be different – but events conspired against me.

Meeting up with other NaNoWriMo’ers helps – it’s where I found mysels thinking out the solution to my plot problems. It was a good meet up on Sunday, (7th November 2009), some new faces and old. It’s enough to make you believe writers are generally smart, talented, driven people, who are genuinely nice, friendly, and social – until you remember I was there ;), brutish talentless oaf that I am.

The only way to hit 100,000 is going to be by being diligent, and erm… Deadlining with an all nighter on Friday – yes my bad, but we each have our ways of writing afterall.

NaNoWriMo 2009 – Week 1

Well we’re now seven days into NaNoWriMo and I’ve only achieved 13,000 words so far. This is actually to plan, yet now we’re going I can’t help but feeling I’m falling short. Today is Saturday however, and I planned in most of my word count for Saturdays and Sundays (because I’m not lucky enough to be able to live without earning lots and lots of money).

In my defence (against myself, since I’m my own harshest critic), there has been a lot of drama to trip me up along the way. From car thefts, work, and family – all neatly working their way into my writing time, and mindset.

I shouldn’t be bothered, the plan was for 20,000 a weekend, with and extra 5,000 on a Friday, and we’ve not had a full weekend yet – but I want to do more, be faster stronger as a writer.

I’m not helping myself however, trying to exercise and write at the same time isn’t easy, and it’s taking it’s toll. The Friday just gone, I should have done 5,000 words, instead I slept. Oops, my bad.

It just means today (Saturday) I have to hit 15,000 to be sure of my targets.

Actually, I do realise I’m being unfair, everytime I think about it, I ramp up the amount of words I need to do each week (and subsequently each day), because of how badly I’m doing. It’s not just to contemplate for being bad now, it’s to compensate for things being just as hard later. I know that if I could get away with it, I would probably set myself a target of 50,000 words a day this weekend. Which isn’t unachievable really – think about it, assuming I slept for 12 hours, out of the 48, and wrote for the rest – I’d only need to achieve 52 words per minute consistently.

Of course, that’s not likely since I’m here writing this, oops. 15,000 today and tomorrow is fine – it’ll get me to 42% of my target, which does give me room to relax for the rest of the month.

I am my own hardest task master… I’ve as many psychological issues as my main character – but he’s paranoid delusional, since I started writing his life has now gone quite psychotic. The irony is, I didn’t mean to do that, all I did was shoot him, and he’s gone nuts. Oops.

So now I’ve got to get him functional, get him out of hospital, and somehow have him run (a bullet passed through both thighs, and at one point he starts bleeding out). Oh hum – well here goes.

The good thing with a 100,000 word count target, if I don’t finish this in 50,000 I can push it to 60,000 and then have a nice shorter to finish the challenge with.

And if you think I’m a harsh task master this year? Next year will be 50% harder… and you don’t even want to know about the year after that.

NaNoWriMo 2009 is a go!

Weeks of anticipation, preparation, and nerves have finally lead to the start of NaNoWriMo 2009.

It started at midnight, and so did I, or close enough (what I actually did was start the procastination early, by waiting an hour to start while I worked on a spreadsheet to track my writing… erm oops). Anyway, today I went to Café Latino in Leeds, met up with another writer doing NaNoWriMo, and we got to work properly on writing our novels.

I’d like to say I’m target, but I’m about four thousand words short as it stands, and annoyingly I’m currently averaging a very poor, and very slow four hundred and fifty three words an hour, I’m not really sure why, the ideas there. Hopefully when a few more characters turn up, and we get some good interaction (not just phone calls), the words will start to flow.

My ideal is to do ten thousand words a day at weekends, with an extra five thousand on a Friday night. Now I know this isn’t entirely sustainable, which is where week nights come in, they’re my bonus rounds where I can pick a few extra on the word counts, but I can also take some time to create and organise notes, drawings, and do plans to help me at the weekends. The weekend and Fridays plan brings me to my target of one hundred thousand words, across two stories – and thats where I need to focus my efforts.

I don’t really need to feel too bad about not hitting target today, this Sunday is an extra, above and beyond the plan, so any words today, just help take a bit of pressure off later on. However, aside from a few chores, and writing this entry I’ll be writing right up until bedtime. Sadly this year there won’t be any bus writing, my little netbook is still out of order (bang out of order as it were), and I’m confined to using my seventeen inch monster laptop which is just about portable, if I’m writing in a café, or some such, not really something I can sit on a bus with.

I am feeling really confident about this year though, I’ve got a good plan, and some great ideas. There’s a lot of pressure, but I write better with pressure, its how I made it last year,  when I did 80% of my novel in just ten days, right at the end.

I’m going to try and fit in time to keep writing here, this is what my blog is for, writing, and discussing writing, and this is the month I’m going to be doing lots of it, so i’ll have plenty to discuss.

To all everyone doing NaNoWriMo out there, I wish you all the best of luck.

Block Breaking

In the words of Shirley Manson (of Garbage), "My head explodes, and my body aches," why? Because I’m trying to overcome writers block, and it takes a lot out of me. Its akin to smashing my head against a brick wall for hours at a time.

Why would anyone put themselves through that? Is it worth being a writer if you are not very good at it, and in fact can not write a blessed thing? It is without a doubt a masochistic tendency of writers to try and write through writers block. However it is worth it.

What I’m trying to do at the moment is warm up to NaNoWriMo, I’m taking on the insane challenge of entering twice this year. Two targets of 50,000 words – which I’m definitely capable of achieving, but only if I write. Indeed daily its a requirement of about 4,000 words (with room for creative breaks).

So banging my head against a brick wall ia just warm up, next month I’ll be peddling a bike at twenty miles per hour into brick walls, and clinging on for dear life in the hopes I don’t get knocked off in the process.

I’m confident though, because despite the block, the ink is flowing. It might only be hundreds of words a day, but clearly that its any words per day after struggling with none is a great thing.

Bring on the impossible challenges. Speaking of which, throughout November, to help push myself I’m going to be giving myself little challenges, characters, and scenarios to include in the stories I write. There are already some over at NaNoWriMo.org: York & Leeds for my region. Will keep you posted on how that goes, and feel free to suggest challenges at me, the more the merrier.