Thursday, December 08, 2011

November is a novel month

November is always a trying time of year, because it’s National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo). People all over the world set themselves to producing 50,000 words of fiction, starting on November 1st and going through to midnight on the last day of the month. It can be done, but it isn’t easy.

This was the seventh year I’ve taken part, and each year it seems to get a little harder. Last year was especially difficult and I felt a lot of dissatisfaction after cranking out a potboiler titled “The Purple Page.”

This year I was hoping to produce something better. I had spent a lot of time during the year musing on the plot and I felt I had a reasonable plot skeleton worked out.

The title was “The Moonlight Visitors” and would concern a man who discovered that his house guests were actually from a parallel world - that explains the
Tasmanian Tiger he saw in the back garden.

Things would have worked out all right if I’d been able to write every day -- about 1700 words a day is recommended. But things distracted me, and I had three or four days when I didn’t write at all. I was short of sleep, averaging about five and a half hours a night. There are some things that you can still do on four hours sleep, but writing fiction is not one of them.

The end result was that I had half the novel written by the time we were two-thirds of the way through the month. My maths isn’t great, but I knew I was in trouble.

I re-organized my schedule for the last ten days of the month to allow me more time to write. Especially the last three or four days. Who was the author who said the secret of writing was applying the backside to the chair and the fingers to the keys?

A pleasant surprise, I managed to finish at 4:15 pm on the last day of the month. Story completed, and almost eight hours to spare. “Wow!” I thought.

Next year I’ll be better prepared.... But then I say that every year.  

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