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Monday, 11 November 2013

This NaNoWriMo Lark.

We’re a little over a third of the way through the challenge to complete 50,000 words in the month of November. Those of us who’ve grasped the nettle, begun to climb the greasy pole, entered the race, and any one of a number of clich├ęs you care to attach to the venture, are well into the project.

Me, I joined in order to concentrate my mind on a specific task. I’m currently writing volume 3 of a fantasy trilogy. Volume 1 is due to be published by Fantastic Books Publishing before the end of the year. Look out for news of that event here and on the social networks I dabble in. I started off the NaNoWriMo challenge with a MS at 111,079 words and I expect it to be around 210,000 when complete. Though, that is a moveable feast, of course. Who knows how long a book will be whilst actually writing it?

Does it work? Well, here’s the evidence. In the 17 days prior to my summer break, I averaged 1,566 words a day, which, I know, isn’t actually a bad result. When I returned from holiday, I re-read the words already strung together on the page and joined NaNoWriMo to see if I could up the ante. In the 11 days so far covered, I’ve averaged 3,835 words per day, something over double the earlier rate. I think that speaks for itself. But it only worked because I set myself a very specific target. I was, and remain, determined to complete the first draft before the end of November. That way, I can take December off as a rest period from the fantasy and start on revision and editing in the New Year with some distance between creation and the more detailed work of honing those words.

Now, this is obviously working for me; concentrating the mind and disciplining me to work consistently because I’ve publicly declared my intention. That doesn’t mean it would work as well for every writer, of course. For some, the very idea would be anathema. For others, the thought of having to write a minimum number of words each day would actually paralyse their creative spirit. And for yet others, existing commitments would render the challenge insurmountable.

But, for those who have the ability, need and freedom to accept the challenge, I suggest you have a go. This year’s too late, of course. But perhaps consider it for next year. It’s a superb way to defeat that curse of all writers; the temptation of procrastination. When that target beckons and you know all your peers are going to be able to measure your output at the end of each day, it has a remarkable effect on your self-discipline.

I’d be fascinated to learn the experience of others who’ve tried this challenge. Place your comments below and let’s see what secrets emerge from the revelations, eh?
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