Nanowrimo – the half way mark

So, Nanowrimers – how’s it all coming along?

Nicely? Hideously?

Or has progress stalled completely?

Though I’m not taking part this year, I do have a project that I wanted to complete (4th draft of  a 3rd draft rewrite, followed by 5th draft polish) by the end of November. I say ‘wanted to’ because things have been moving incrementally slowly. Even at this stage new plot holes are emerging like molehills on a newly turfed lawn. That’ll learn me for rewriting most of the original 80+ k words during the third draft. Thankfully none of them have turned into mountains.

But what about you? Two weeks in, two and a bit weeks to go and in theory you should be at the 25k mark. But as we all know, writing/creativity in general can’t be reduced to a scientific formula. (Even though sometimes we wish that it could.)

It doesn’t matter if you’ve only managed a few hundred words so far – there’s plenty of time to put in a spurt and catch up. No really – there is. Year after year novice (and not so novice) writers have achieved the magic 50k when all they had to show for giving up TV, sleep, seeing their kids, proper food, daylight, fresh air, having meaningful conversations about anything other than their plots/characters/prose style/RSI was a measly handful of pages in their word processing application of choice.

The secret of success is quite straightforward. GET YOUR ARSE BACK IN THAT CHAIR AND TYPE!! Banish that evil nagging genius crushing inner editor and let your fingers fly over the keyboard.

I know how hard it is and I know you can do it.

Go team Nanowrimo!

A writer’s work-life work-work balance

I recently started working full time in, like, a proper job. One that takes me away from my desk, away from my WIP, away from my dream, godammit. And I am yet to establish a rhythm of production, to schedule in those untouchable hours around the ones I spend earning a reliable crust.Susan Glaspell sitting at the typewriter

I realise I’m not alone, and I also know that some writers can sit down wherever they happen to be AND JUST WRITE. The local coffee shop (Julia Crouch), an airport lounge (Peter James), an uncomfortable hotel room late at night (Denise Mina), the back of a cab (Peter James – OK the man can write anywhere). But I seem to need to be at my desk, with my dictionary and thesaurus within easy reach, using my well worn keyboard. Oh – and did I mention I need complete quiet?

Obviously I’m not making it easy for myself with so many restrictions and I need to toughen up. But is it the mark of a true writer to be able to produce prose halfway up a mountain/stuck deep underground in an overcrowded tube?

Just to test myself, I’m writing this post sitting at my kitchen table as my tea gets cold and my muesli hardens in the bowl. My shoulders are hunched, my fingers keep hitting the wrong keys, my bum’s going numb and I’m totally distracted by the hum of the fridge. It seems I have a long way to go.

Douglas Jackson started writing his gladiator novels sitting on the train commuting to and from his job at the Scotsman. I’ve read about an American writer of cozies (Elizabeth Craig) who snatches 15 or 20 minutes during the day whenever she finds a gap in her childcare responsibilities. How do they do it? What’s the secret? And will it be revealed to me eventually if I continue to move outside the comfort zone I’ve made so thoroughly comfortable?

My current WIP is the third draft of the 2nd novel in my loosely connected crime series (each book/short story connected to every other by at least one character) and it’s pretty much a complete rewrite of what I had before. The basic premise is the same, but that’s a lot of first draft wrangling to go through when I’m supposed to be wearing my editor’s hat (and spending the biggest chunk of each day at someone else’s desk). I’m 9 chapters in with 45 more to go. It’s like chipping away at a block of marble with a plastic spoon. Other people can polish off a thousand words in 30 minutes (allegedly) and I want a bit of their magic.

If anyone knows where I can get some, all answers gratefully received in the comments section.