A month of writing without a plan: update

writing quote

So, yes I have not been blogging, and no, I have not been lolling around eating doorsteps and rovers looking like a dying duck in a thunderstorm.  That was the week before last for your information.  That’s right – the week when I only wrote a pilfering 9400 words for the whole week.  That was The Week of Life, and I am afraid that writing had to take a back burner for the while.

However, this week I determined to get back on course.  I had already conceded that I might not be able to complete the novel in the 28 day time frame (which incidentally ran out… TODAY!).  But still, I make the rules on this one, so I gave myself an extra week which takes the challenge to this Thursday.  By then, I wanted to have finished my first draft OR completed at least 28 sessions of 3000 words per session.

I am happy to report that despite no plan and no postits being harmed in the writing of the novel, I have now reached 68 500 words.  You read that right folks.  That’s more than a NaNoWriMo novel.  In a month, with a week off for bad behaviour, I have managed to write all those words and find myself approaching the final furlong of my story.

I am not there yet but it has been a blast of a writing experience.

Here are 5 things I have learned writing a novel in a month:

1:  It is okay to take a day off:  Yes writing is a habit, but so is smoking.  You can take a day off without having to abandon the dream altogether.  It is possible to get back on the writing wagon.  A day off is not a failure my friend.  It just means that on that particular day, something else was more important than your writing. And THAT IS OKAY.  Promise!

2:  Having a plan is one way but it is not the only way:  I worried about writing myself into dead ends with this novel.  Hell, 28 days ago I did not even know what story I would be telling.  I have learned to trust myself and my story to show me the way.  If I come to a dead end then I will extricate myself from it in the second draft.  It is just a story.  A dead end is an opportunity to create a new opening.  That’s it – not a biggie.

3:  A strict timeframe is a great motivator:  Look, I confess that I like a deadline ina  sadistic kind of way.  Not only do I enjoy a deadline, I take great relish in beating those deadlines.  This would be fabulous in Corporateland but unfortunately it means I do put myself under some pressure, even though I make my own deadlines.  But having a deadline – it helps.  It keeps you on task and gives you just the right frisson of pressure to keep putting words on the page.

4: It won’t be perfect but it will be something:  This is a first draft, a pile of words.  It can be honed and polished and tweaked and pulled later.  You are creating raw material.  Don’t worry that it is not great.  Take heed from the writers who warn us that the first draft will be doo-doo.  This is just for you, nobody else needs to ever read this one.  It is your baby and you can love it even though it is a bit odd-looking, and takes after your great uncle Jimmy who ended up in the nuthouse.

5: Have fun with it:  The worse that can happen is that you lose a month of writing and bit of memory on your laptop.  Big deal.  Think of it as an experiment in writing and nothing else.  If it works then you have anew model for writing your first draft.  If it doesn’t then you just lost a month but you probably would have spent that month procrastinating anyways so you are still way ahead of the game.  Win. Win.

Hope that cheers you on.  I will bring you a report from the finishing line before Easter if it all pans out how I hope.  Fingers crossed loves!

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