NaNo, Planning, Persistence and the curious incident of the dog and the blog post*

Okay, I’ma goin’ to tell you what I’ve been up to (sorry, channelling Kanye there – and that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write) but first, I have to ask, do you think that somewhere, sometime there was an actual dog-eating-homework incident?

Do you think that at some innocent time in history, a good and conscientious child actually did their report on the Greater Northern Brown-Snouted Crocodile, complete with diagrams and graphs and neatly ruled borders, only to have it mauled beyond recognition by a puppy with self-control issues?**

I like to think there was.  Because I have had my post eaten.  Admittedly, not by a puppy and my borders probably weren’t as tidy, but I had a writing post for Monday and I wrote it and it was nearly finished and almost completely made sense, when the internet ATE IT.  (Which should teach me not to compose on the blog server and probably will – until I forget and backslide and it happens again.)

There was an upside to all this: I learned that I can swear with a fluency and vehemence that frankly, impressed me.  But I will not demonstrate that for you here, since I like to keep myself naice in print.  Also, now that I have calmed down, I would blush and blushing does not become me.  I’ll redo that writing post next Monday and you can tell me whether it was worth the effort!

In the meantime, though, I would like, if you would bear with me, to update you on my NaNoWriMo progress and lessons learned in the attempt.  You will remember, if you are a regular, that I took on NaNo (unofficially) mostly to overcome The Fear.

I am pleased to announce that it has worked.  I am currently in the midst of a very tricky part of my WIP (work in progress, for the non-writerly among you) and I had allowed my momentum to slow to the point where the fear had indeed ‘taken the heart of me’, as Aragorn would say.  I needed the impetus of a daily word target to push through and overcome it.  And it’s worked.  I haven’t met the word target, but I have done much more than I would have done without it, and I have come out the other side of the tricky bit, bloodied and sweat-stained, but unbeaten.  And I still have some days left of November, in which I plan to write up a storm, now that I’m over the hump.

If you want actual numbers, I have 7485 of edited words (that is the humpy bit, finished now) and 1897 of unedited words.  The 1897 took approximately 2 hours, the other total took 10 days.  (Not 20, despite it being the 21st of November today – November is an unbelievably busy month for me and I’ve only had 10 writing days.)

I’ve also learned a couple of things.

One is that tricky parts of an ms are sometimes tricky because you are succumbing to ‘The Fear’ and sometimes they are genuinely tricky and need some cogitation time.  I’m a big believer in the ‘beat your fingers until you bleed on they keyboard’ system of overcoming writer’s block, and it is definitely better than running scared (hence the word count prompt), but sometimes it’s not helpful.

I’ve decided that, while I will continue to require myself to show up and write for a certain amount of time each day, I will allow myself to switch projects if I feel I’m just not making headway on one.  This does not mean that whenever something gets hard I will start something new.  That way never finishing lies!  But I do have another project on the back burner which is quite different from this one and they may prove to be complimentary running mates.  A change is as good as a holiday, they say.  It may be that mixing up my writing time can improve my productivity – and that, for me, is very much the aim of this exercise!

So how are you going with your projects?  Had any epiphanies lately?

As usual, the pic above was provided by

*If this sounds familiar it’s because I borrowed some of it from the title of a completely unrelated book called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, by Mark Haddon, which I think you will agree is a fabulous title (and a pretty interesting book).  Even if it is completely unrelated to this post.

**Just in case you were wondering, there is no such beastie as a Greater Northern Brown-Snouted Crocodile.  But there was a report written about one once and it got very good marks. I can’t say any more, for fear of incriminating the guilty.  But that’s what you could get away with kids, before they invented Mr Google.  Ah, those were the days!

4 thoughts on “NaNo, Planning, Persistence and the curious incident of the dog and the blog post*

  1. Hi Imelda,
    I do believe there must’ve been a real dog-ate-my-homework incident somewhere in history, because my dog nearly ate a whole book once. *big sigh*

    Glad to hear you’re getting your words done, but what is this ‘edited words’ part? Isn’t the ‘e’ word verboten during nano???


    • hello, Sue! My apologies for taking so long to reply.

      Yes, I’m sure editing IS verboten during NaNo, which is why, even this year, I haven’t signed up officially. It’s supposed to be about creating a new ms and not looking back until it’s over. I do get that, but the work I really need done now is not new, but existing and it’s too far through for me to change the edit-as-I-go system now. I can just ‘chuck stuff down’ and I do sometimes, but the reason this section was giving me trouble was that there was tricky thinking and winkling of words to express the thinking that needed to be done. Chucking just wasn’t going to cut it. hence the edited words and the unedited.

      Now I’m over that section, I’m writing freely and racking up words like no-one’s business. But I always feel that claiming ‘those’ words as word count is a bit fraudulent. I sometimes write thousands of words in working out what to say, but I tend only to count the ‘finished’ ones, as they’re the only ones that help me make the number I need to finish the book! It’s not so different from the way that the ‘chuck now, edit later’ writers do it, it’s just that I can’t do a whole book that way. I do it scene or chapter at a time. It’s the copywriting history, I expect!

  2. I change things up all the time–I find I can only comfortably write about 1.5-2k a day on a given project. Switching between projects allows me to recharge, and also gives me space to reflect on what’s going to happen next in project A while I’m working on project B.

    I’m sort of on track to finish NaNo, but if I included all of the other stuff I’ve been working on, I’d be way over the target! 🙂 Writers work in mysterious ways!

    • I hope so, Stephanie! The mysterious ways part. Actually, I believe it, but it’s sometimes hard to balance the need to honour the process and the need to get stuff done! Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether things need more thinking time, or I’m just slacking off… I’m hoping the mix-up approach will keep up the productivity on all the projects.

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