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I’ve started to write my book for NaNoWriMo. For those who don’t know, the goal is to write a novel (or, more accurately, a first draft of a novel) in a month - November. A novel, in this competition is defined as a work of fiction totaling 50,000 words. It sounds like a lot for a month initially. Then you break that down to 1,667 words per day - which sounds manageable - I tried writing a chapter last month and got 2,033 words done in about an hour and a half.

Day 1 of November proceeded in the same way every day had for the last couple of weeks. Suffice to say I have been rather overloaded at work and have had to put in a lot of hours - usually till about half past midnight to get things done. This is not a good recipe for becoming a best selling author. Day 1, therefore, ended with a word count of zero. Having committed myself to this challenge, I felt the failure keenly.

Day 2 of November showed no signs of being any different. This time, however, I was determined to get writing, whatever happened. I left work as soon as I could, squeezed myself onto the overcrowded train to Clapham Junction and popped into Debenhams to pick up my repaired watches. Even though I was eager to get home and get typing, I was in Debenhams so I decided to have a wander around the mens department. Masterful procrastination I know! I must have been there for around half an hour - bought two jumpers, a white shirt and two ties. Debenhams is a dangerous place. Then I finally made my merry way homewards. The rest of the evening involved trying to write while fielding various questions and requests from colleagues on Skype. I don’t recommend this as a strategy for writing or even as a strategy for working. It’s definitely not a good combination for one’s sanity. However, I managed a measly 500 words. I was too embarrassed to update my word count on my profile though and went to sleep feeling defeated.

Day 3 might as well be forgotten entirely. Quite apart from the work I continued to do during the evening, I made no attempt to write anything - content to investigate various programming ideas and generally waste my time watching programmes on the iPlayer…until quite late actually - for no good reason. Novel? What novel?

Today was different. Well, not so much actually. By the time work was over, I was pretty much exhausted. I elbowed, pushed and shoved my way onto the inhumane device some people laughably refer to as public transport and made my way home like a zombie with a mission. Slow but determined. I only hope I have more literally skill than your average zombie. Or failing that, raw typing speed.

So aside from the work I inevitably had to do this evening, I’ve completed 1,788 words, bringing my total so far to 2,288. I am obviously well short of where I should be but I’m hoping I can put some serious typing hours in on the weekend. It’s not like I’ll have anything else to do. Except procrastinate of course.

If anybody else out there in the ether is having problems writing their novel, or writing anything for that matter, rest assured your problems are not unusual. I’m still wavering between determination to complete the challenge to get my first novel written; and defeat, apathy that no matter how hard I try, life will always get in my way. When I was at school, if a teacher had set me homework to write a 2,000 word essay or story, I would have left it to the last minute, written less than half of what was required and handed it in late. If I don’t rise above this pattern of under-achievement now, I fear I never will. So, in summary, I will finish this novel on time. I might not enjoy it, but I will complete it.