When left to my own devices, I find it very easy to procrastinate. This very lunchtime I switched on the very *ahem* informative programme Don't Tell the Bride to have on in the background during my break. An hour later, my wraps eaten, I found myself still watching this programme. It's hard to kick those habits but I'm getting better at it. For instance, I switched off the programme instead of telling myself to watch the last twenty minutes.
Now if I had a method of holding myself accountable, I doubt I would have wasted an hour on a stupid television programme (especially as I slept in this morning). That's the danger I can see arising with NaNoWriMo. This morning I was over 3000 words behind the official target. After some writing sprints (more about those later), I had clocked up 2000 words and I'm only 1200 words behind today's official target. A quick note about targets: in order to complete NaNo on time, ideally you need to be hitting 1666 words a day at the absolute minimum. I took yesterday off NaNo to spend time with my family which was lovely. My story has taken an unforeseen dark turn and I did not want to burst my happy bubble returning to it last night.
How is my story going? Not the way I planned at all. As part of my NaNo prep, I made a list of what makes a 'bad' novel. Please note, this is what makes me put down a novel. My list of what makes a 'good' novel will not appeal to everyone, just as my 'bad' list might leave some people outraged. So here goes:
What makes a 'bad' novel according to Laura Stevens:
- Boring and poorly developed characters
- Long passages of inner monologue that are dull and don't move the plot along
- Confusing narratives that jump around
- Overly complicated language or jargon
- Repeated scenes of sexual abuse that do not add to the plot
- Cruelty to animals
- Overuse of exclamation points!
In No Plot? No Problem! Chris Baty encourages us to make this list so we can avoid these elements creeping into our novels. Alas, he also warns that it is very easy to fall into these traps especially when writing to a deadline. I am ashamed to admit that points nos 1, 2 and 3 are alive and well in my NaNo story. However, I'm willing to let them slide. Why? Purely because, excluding yesterday, I have been writing every single day this week. That was not happened in years, quite possibly the first time since I have left school. Instead of finding excuses, I'm working my way around them. Can't take my laptop on my work commute? Then use a nice A5 pad and a pretty pen instead. Not sure what to write? Doesn't matter, sit down and let the words come. This morning, I broke through the 10000 word barrier and I gave myself a little cheer. The last piece of work I finished clocked in at 3000 words with the re-writing process taking the finished story up to 3500 words. I should also add that 3000 story took me a month to complete, even with a submission deadline looming. So 10000 words in a week is not to be sniffed at.
This has left me extremely happy with my NaNo progress so far. Yesterday I did have my first plot crisis due to Sunday's writing session. Out of nowhere, my second main character was killed off page but it has thrown up some interesting routes for my main character. I now have a much more interesting plot lining up for them than my original idea that I am much more excited about.
There are three things I am attributing to my current NaNo cheer:
- Reading the daily blogs from Vikki at The View Outside. I've known Vikki through Bookcrossing for a number of years, although I have not bookcrossed for a very long time, I still keep in touch with people through the wonders of social media. Her updates on Twitter and Facebook are a good way of giving me a gentle prod to get my writing bottom in gear.
- 1 Ali at 12 Books 12 Months is an old hand at this NaNo business - she loved it so much that she did NanNo every month in 2011. That means she's written over 12 books thanks to NaNo. Her blog is a great pit stop in between writing sprints.
- Writing sprints. I've been setting my timer for 20 minutes and writing furiously without stopping to think. Then I give myself 10 minutes as a reward for doing what I want like filling up my coffee mug or other essential tasks, like peeing. NaNo does host official sprints on Twitter if you like the idea of competing against other novelists. They also suggest prompts if you're struggling to think of where to take your novel during the sprinting.
- Rewards of pretzels, humous and salsa. Mmmmmm…..