NaNoWriMo: The Halfway Point

NaNoWriMo bookcaseWe are now officially over halfway through NaNoWriMo 2015 and I am sorry to report that I have been a very bad NaNoWriMo participant indeed. I have hardly written anything, and I say this without exaggeration or irony because I have only written a rather non-spectacular 4,929 words. Whilst they are very good words (I really am genuinely very very pleased with them) it’s an inescapable fact that I’m running alarmingly behind schedule if I am to have any hope of reaching 50,000 words by the end of the month. To do so, I would need to write at least 3,219 words per day, which realistically is not going to happen.

Thing is though, I always knew I was going to ‘lose’ NaNoWriMo, and I never actually set out to ‘win’ it. I just wanted to use it as an exercise to get back into the habit of writing on a regular basis. Being the despairing owner of a 170,000 word-draft of pure unfinished ramble (my original draft of The Mayor shamefully amounts to only a 1/4 of the whole book), I’m not exactly the firmest believer in ‘quantity over quality’. I’m a very slow writer even at the best and most creative of times.

I have however, at this halfway point, learned a few things:

1) I don’t actually need long, extended periods of uninterrupted writing time sat behind my desk. All the words I’ve written for NaNoWriMo so far have been written on my morning train journey and in the kitchen on my lunch break. Given half an hour or so, I can churn out about 300 words. So if I wrote every day for a week, that’d be approximately 2100 words. If I wrote every day for a month, that’d be approximately 8400 words. If I wrote every day for a year, that’d be approximately 100,800 words i.e. at least one book’s worth. My train journey takes about 30 minutes, each way, so voila. I seem to have found some writing time.

2) The 170,000 words I originally wrote of The Mayor and have been tempted to burn many times aren’t actually that bad, just long-winded. In fact, they’re pretty good, and it’d do me well to perhaps spend some time hammering these into submission and rewriting great chunks of it rather than starting completely afresh as I originally intended. Don’t kill your darlings… recycle them!

3) Writing should be fun. I do find writing fun, most of the time. But NaNoWriMo’s word counts make it feel like a chore. It doesn’t work for everyone, and I think after several attempts now both at regular NaNoWriMo and also Camp NaNoWriMo, it’s time for me to accept that this sort of thing just isn’t for me and to not to feel guilty about it. Crippling levels of guilt and feelings of failure just stop me from writing anything at all.

So, with two weeks still to go on NaNoWriMo, here’s to hoping I can churn out at least another 4,929 words. After all, 9,858 words written over 30 days may not be as many as 50,000, but it’s better than no words at all! And better than just vomiting out words, if I’m honest…

How is NaNoWriMo going for you? Are you doing any better or trailing behind like I am?

Take care,

S.E. Berrow


 

Think you’ve got what it takes to pen 50,000 words in 30 days? Check out NaNoWriMo’s official websites below. Good luck!

www.nanowrimo.org
www.campnanowrimo.org

Berrow and Goodacre’s Annual Writing Retreat Part II: The Hermits Emerge

Click here to read Part I.

Thus the Writing Retreat has come to an end, and K.F. Goodacre and I must return to our day jobs. I must confess, my level of productivity paled in comparison to that of K.F. Goodacre, who’s been slashing words from her book baby as though editing were some form of infanticide. Me? Well I spent most of my time sorting out my extremely out of date Scrivener file and organising the research photos from my visit to New Orleans last year for one of my current projects, Salt. I also did a little bit of editing myself and a smidgeon of plotting, essentially attempting to hammer my existing work into some form of springboard that I can push up from.

Truth be told, I haven’t actually picked any writing up since April last year. Two things happened around that time that caused the longest and most numbing spate of writer’s block I’ve ever experienced:

1) My beloved cat Jaffa died slap-bang in the middle of a really productive Camp Nanowrimo and I was too upset to continue.

2) I bought a house. Not just any house, but a new build that didn’t actually complete until late December/early January.

Have you ever bought a house before? If so, you will know how stressful purchasing a house is; obtaining a mortgage, scrabbling around for money you didn’t even realise you needed, having to deal with rude and incompetent solicitors… At the same time I was stuck in a job I absolutely loathed, but I couldn’t move on because it would violate the conditions of my mortgage. Then, after I moved in, I had to find a new job and at the same time deal with all the stresses of living expenses, furnishing and decorating. New job aside, I’m still dealing with these stresses, but at least now it’s gradually receding into the background radiation of my everyday existence.

Regardless, I know that life simply won’t stop just so I can write a book, and now things are considerably less hectic than they were before, I really need to get back into the ‘swing’ of writing again. The more I write, the more I want to write, so this weekend’s Writing Retreat – whilst not as productive as it could have been – did succeed in reminding me how much I love my story, and how much I want to continue writing it. I sometimes get the notion that I am ‘not worthy’ of writing Salt; that I lack the ability to weave the story that I want to tell properly. Yesterday whilst out for a Sunday roast dinner in a group, my friend Maria asked me if I had written anymore, because I sent the opening chapter to her last year and she thought it was ‘amazing’. It was really lovely to hear her praise, despite the crushing guilt I felt at not having written anything more to show her. There’s only one way to change that of course… I need to write more!

Take care,

S.E. Berrow


Official website for K.F. Goodacre:
http://kfgoodacre.com/

For more information on Camp Nanowrimo, visit:
http://campnanowrimo.org/

Writing Retreats and Adventures in Late-Night Baking

Today marked the first day of Berrow and Goodacre’s second annual Writing Retreat. The idea is that each year, my writing partner and I hole ourselves away in a room, knuckle down to business and bash out a few thousand words without the distractions of work, family, friends and boyfriends luring us away from our desks.

So, how is it going so far?

Kim gets down to businessWell, for K.F. Goodacre, things are going spectacularly well. She has been continuing to edit her recently completed novel, The Elder Throne, getting it ready for querying agents and generally being a Good Little Writer.

Me? Well, I spent most of the day sleeping off the tail-end of my hideous cold, coughing my guts up, making sinister avocado-peeling videos to creep out my friends on our WhatsApp group and attempting to bake a cake with rotten eggs at 11pm.

Adventures in late-night bakingNot very writerly of me.

Still, tomorrow is a new day. And, following an emergency trip to Asda to acquire fresh eggs, we now have some Dorset Apple Cake to see us through!

No doubt I shall keep you updated with our progress.

Take care,

S.E. Berrow


For more information on K.F. Goodacre and The Elder Throne, visit:
http://kfgoodacre.com/

Dorset Apple Traybake recipe from BBC Good Food:
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2044/dorset-apple-traybake