Tag Archives: goals

camping it up

summer tree cropEver heard of NaNoWriMo (Nation Novel Writing Month) ?

In case you haven’t, it’s an annual, online creative writing challenge to write a 50,000 word novel between the first and the last day of November. It’s been running since 1999 and attracts participants from across the world.

It describes itself as: “a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing… for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.” Basically you write (crazily fast) throughout the month, entering what you’ve written into their secure site where the words are counted (but never seen by a human eye) and logged. If you hit the target by the end of the month you are declared a winner. And maybe you’ll be able to get your novel published at some point in the future – over 250 NaNo novels have been traditionally published since its inception… and counting!

Sounds fun? A bit mad perhaps? Well yes. I toyed with the idea of taking part in it last November (for all of two seconds before deciding: “Who am I kidding? I couldn’t possibly do that – I haven’t slept for nearly a year!”) and am vaguely considering doing it this year.

But then via my friend Chrissie who is a total NaNoWriMo enthusiast (I think she may have done seven of them… possibly more) I became aware of an offshoot of the main event: CampNaNoWriMo which takes place twice a year in April and July. This is a less pressured event that you can enter with anything upwards of 10,000 words (and you can write short stories and scripts and things – it’s quite flexible).

So, I’ve decided to take part next month! I’m all signed up with a target of 15,000 words. If I manage that (and if I hit my 10,000 target for this month) my novel will have reached 45,000 words by the end of July.

I’m quite excited! But it does mean I need to write fast to finish my target for this month. I also need to leave myself time before July 1st to do some preparation work because basically I’ve got to the point where I need to plan more of my book before I can write more of it. Yes, If you’re a fastidious planner you can read this and feel smug because my novel is barely planned at all. I only really have a vague outline and am mostly making it up as I go along. Tsk.

On that note, I’d better scarper.

lost momentum

Pretend this is a horse...

A metaphorical horse. What do you mean ‘But that’s a cow’? It’s a HORSE.

The title of this post basically sums up my last week as far as writing goes. And just when it was all going so well!

It’s no coincidence though; when I put myself under pressure to write 20,000 words last month I rose to the challenge, got into the flow and did it. Then I decided I would only aim for 10,000 this month, thought ‘phew that’s much easier!’, took my foot off the writing accelerator and consequently seem to have ground to a halt. I’ve only written 3000 words since the start of the month.

And I haven’t even blogged that much; yes, I’ve taken part in some linkies (which I didn’t allow myself to last month as a creative-writing boosting tactic) but I don’t think I’ve actually written more posts.

Today I feel like I’ve hit a total writing slump. Everything I’ve been attempting to write is dire. My book is stuck on a freeze frame (my main character is poised on the side of her bed and I don’t have the words to move her) and a bit of flash fiction I’m attempting is so bad I want to cry. Yes, the self-doubt demon is back, and he seems to have sharpened his teeth while he was away.

I know that sitting ruminating/stressing about it isn’t really helping and I should probably just punch through it and get back on the horse. But the horse is currently in the next field looking twitchy as though the slightest movement would send him galloping in the other direction. If you see what I mean? (I’m not sure even my metaphors are working properly and I LOVE a metaphor!)

So the question is – do I take tonight off for beer and Breaking Bad and hope to kick start my creativity that way? Or do I hurl myself bodily over the fence into the field and grab the horse before he has the chance to react? Maybe I can ride him off into a beautiful sunset scattering perfect sentences in our wake…

Doesn’t feel like it though. Beer?

and now?

138-3878_IMGI blogged yesterday about how it felt to achieve my target of 20,000 words in May (pretty great!). But what next?

Last month’s challenge involved not taking part in any linkies in order to prioritise writing over blogging. This definitely worked – I spent less time blogging and a whole heap more time writing. That said, I still blogged a fair bit – I’ve just checked and I published nine posts during May – roughly two posts a week! I also continued reading and commenting on other blogs (although only those I already follow) so I definitely didn’t completely withdraw from the blogging world.

Why? Surely I could have written even more of my book if I’d just avoided the blogosphere completely?

Well, the thing is, blogging is addictive. I found posting about where I was with my writing challenge quite helpful. It kept me focussed. The blogging community can also be very supportive and having nestled myself into a little community of bloggers/writers I didn’t want to feel completely out on my own for a month. And my little community really came through for me; when I had moments/days of doubt during the month, the support I got in comments and tweets helped keep me going. If you were one of those people then thank you!

So, in considering what challenge to set myself for June (because yes, I’m going to set myself another challenge because I found it such a good motivator) I don’t think I want to limit my blogging. The fact is, I missed the linkies and am really keen to join with #Prose4T again! In fact, I’ve even got my eye on a few new linkies I’d like to have a go at. But with blogging properly back on the agenda I will have less time for creative writing. So I’ll set myself a smaller target. How about 10,000 words?

Oh, and also, last month I managed to squeeze in an entry to a flash fiction competition. I didn’t win, but not winning is very good experience for a writer: we’ve got to get used to rejection! So I’d like to try entering another competition.

Ok, so, June’s challenge: 10,000 words of my novel, a competition entry, and blogging as much as I like and joining in some linkies again.

Deal.

kicking the demon and climbing the mountain

tryptich 5At the start of May I set myself the challenge of writing the first 20,000 words of my novel in the space of a month. It felt like quite a mountain to climb as, what with three kids, work and life in general, I don’t have much free time.

My previous attempts at writing a book had stalled at around the 8,000 word mark and left me feeling a bit disheartened. I was really starting to doubt myself. Maybe I was destined to grind to a halt around chapter four of any first draft? Did I really have the required focus to write a whole book? Let alone get through the endless, necessary redrafts? And anyway, who said what I wrote would be any good anyway?

Self-doubt can be quite a crippling thing. I’ve described mine before as an ugly, squelchy, belchy demon who sits nearby lobbing insults at me. He’s stopped me writing before and used to make it almost impossible for me to EVER let ANYONE see what I had written. Blogging has helped me deal with some of this; kind of like throwing an old sack over his head so he’s not quite as visible as before and his voice is a bit more muffled. But I can still hear him (especially when he shouts) and I know he’s still there.

But self-doubt demons are not the sort of creature who should be listened to and I decided that what would help me give him a hearty kick was to set myself a writing target. I know what I’m like; I hate to be beaten, so it was bound to be a good motivator and a good reason to ignore my writing-nemesis.

It was a busy month and I thought at times that I wouldn’t manage it… but…

I DID! A few days ago I reached chapter ten and 20,223 words! I got a massive feeling of achievement and awarded myself a large gin. Oh ok, I was already drinking the large gin as I wrote.

I know there’s such a long way to go before I have a book that’s even close to finished. The first 20,000 words of the first draft really only gets me to the lower, grassy slopes of the novel-writing mountain and nowhere near the snow-capped peaks… but it’s something. And actually, right now, it feels like a big something.

And what’s even better is I seem to have lost Mr Squelchy Belchy Somewhere along the way. Oh it’s not permanent; he’ll be back to shout insults (and quite probably bite me… did I tell you he has huge yellow teeth?) but for now he’s a little way back on the mountain trail. So before he catches me up (and before I mix any more metaphors) I’m going to publish this post and get back to my writing!

I’m linking up with Magic Moments over at The Olivers Madhouse because hitting my target really was a magic moment for me this week!


the wall

20140519_124007If you’ve read my last few posts then you’ll know I’ve set myself a challenge to write 20,000 words of my novel this month. I don’t have much time to write, so it does feel like quite a big target to hit, but it has been going well. Or perhaps I should say it HAD been going well. By last Thursday we were half way through the month and had written 10,000 words. By the time I shut my laptop last night I’d written just under 13,000 in total. Good going.

But today I feel like I’ve hit the wall. I’m suddenly struggling with one of my characters – she’s a nineteen year old girl and I can’t get a handle on her personality at all and it’s bugging me. She’s not a main character, in fact she’s rather in the shadow of her mum, dads (the ‘s’ is deliberate) and brothers but I feel like if I make a shoddy job with her it’s going to undermine the reality of the book. Particularly as it’s a book that deals with alternative realities that is a huge problem. If the realities aren’t believable it all falls apart!

Then, as I’ve started struggling with the character of this teenager I’ve suddenly found myself doubting some of the other characters too. I’ve written a chapter involving one character that I’ve decided needs to be entirely re-worked because that’s not how he would have acted at all. In fact, he was reacting like another of the characters would have done; it’s like their personalties have got all tangled up.

Maybe this is one of the downsides of just throwing myself in to writing and seeing how it goes; I was bound to stumble here and there. I think that what I need is to pause and reflect but feel like I don’t have time. Next week is half term so (with three kids to entertain) my writing time will be even more limited. I’m also away for a few days at the end of the month so that period is going to be, by necessity, entirely writing-free. So I need to crack on if I’m going to write another 7000 words before the end of May!

So do I take the time to pause and work it out and risk not meeting my word target? My fear with doing that is that I could lose my momentum and my progress on my book could really stall…

Or do I push through it and write on regardless? I can sort out that chapter and the elusive teenager at a later date. My fear here is that I’ll meet the target but end up having to throw huge chunks of writing away anyway…

Hmmm. I guess that the whole point of setting myself this challenge is that I can learn from it. So I suppose I should push on and see where it gets me. Nothing ventured, nothing gained… I think?

ten thousand

ten thousandIt’s halfway through May so I’m halfway through my challenge to write (the first) 20,000 words of my novel this month. And, as luck (and a lot of writing) would have it, my word count has just gone past the 10,000 mark. I’m officially on target!

I’m particularly chuffed to have achieved this because it’s actually the most words I’ve ever written of a novel. I have written 20,000 words on the evolving persona of Arnold Schwarzenegger for a dissertation (but frankly, who hasn’t?! I mean, that’s totally normal isn’t it?) but never that many of a book.

And now I’ve admitted that, I feel something of a fraud calling myself a writer! But we all have to start somewhere! Somehow every story I’ve written so far has been short. And the two other books I’ve attempted to write have stalled at chapter four. But with this novel I’m now on chapter six so it’s uncharted territory for me. It’s a bit scary and quite exciting.

I have learned some things about (my) writing already this month though:

  • The more I write the more I want to write. Writing breeds writing. I guess I get into the flow of things and it doesn’t matter quite so much that I’m completely knackered with lack of sleep because I JUST WANT TO WRITE.
  • Having a target is a big help/incentive. If I set myself a goal I want to achieve it. Setting myself this word target has kick-started me into a cycle of writing and out of the cycle of feeling too tired. For now anyway. The jury is out on whether I can keep it up beyond the end of this month!
  • Sometimes rushing at something half-cocked does get me somewhere. I am impatient. I do tend to get ideas and want to carry them out NOW. (This is why I ended up re-decorating my bathroom during the easter holidays when I was covered in kids which was blatantly a stupid time to start the project.) My husband often despairs of this tendency of mine and I don’t blame him; it can be counter-productive. But I’ve found with writing my book this month – although in someways I could have planned it more before starting to write it – a lot of ideas have come to me as I’m writing and the story has shaped itself in ways that I suspect lots of planning couldn’t have achieved.
  • Writing a book is exciting but also intimidating. I was chatting to a writer friend yesterday who said six or seven drafts of a book is normal. And here I am having only written a fragment of the first draft – what a massive mountain to climb!
  • I’m up for a bit of mountaineering. Hell yeah.

 

Have you got any particular writing targets, projects or goals at the moment? I’d love to hear about them!

 

progress

ron-swanson-advice

Ron Swanson. Parks and Recreation

This quote pretty much sums up my approach this month. I’m blogging less in order to write (creatively) more. And d’you know what? So far it’s working. By whole-assing my creative writing I’ve written 6453 words (and counting) of my book in the last nine days. That’s nearly six-and-a-half thousand of my twenty-thousand word target for the month. I’m getting there!

I should whole-ass more things more often I think!

Oh, and if you’ve never watched Parks and Recreation: DO! It’s very funny.

day six

waves IMGTowards the end of April I made the decision not to take part in any blog hops (and to generally blog less) throughout May. The idea being that I would use all the time saved to do some creative writing and, specifically, to work on my book.

So how have I done so far? Well, not that great actually! I didn’t do my limerick challenge last Monday, only to find my sons so desperate for me to write a limerick that I ended up doing two and posting them on Thursday. And then I decided to link them up with Prose for Thought! Oh well.

And the creative writing? Well, I shot off the starting blocks on May 1st writing nearly 2500 words (go me!) and declaring (quietly, to myself) ‘I’m going to write LOADS this month! Today is just the start! This is how it’s going to be for the whole month!’ But I’ve written NOTHING since.

Admittedly it’s been the bank holiday weekend, we’ve had friends over, I’ve had all three kids to entertain all day and the baby threw a couple of horrendous nights my way… but even so, I’m a bit disappointed in myself. Surely a committed writer would have slipped a few words in here and there instead of using her one free (and awake) evening to watch The Hobbit? Don’t you think?

So I’ve decided what I lack is a target. While I often itch to write during the day I don’t have much time then, and though I am often free in the evenings I am usually too tired or busy with my blog (or intent on visiting Middle Earth/watching Breaking Bad) to be particularly motivated. A target would be just the kick up the bum I need to really achieve something this month.

So, here’s my goal: I’m going to write 20,000 words of my book during May. It’ll be like my own version of NaNoWriMo… just not national, without online support, with a much smaller word target and only aiming to write part of a novel. Ok, so not much like it but a bit of a MaPaNoWriMo perhaps? (If you can you work out what that stands for I’ll award you a virtual bar of chocolate).

It’s day six and so far I’ve managed 2321 words. So I’ve got some catching up to do. On that note, I’d best be off!

new plan

Skyline and Reflection 1

The easter holidays are over, the kids have gone back to school and I finally have time to do a bit more writing!

I haven’t written one of my Friday ‘writing posts’ for a few weeks but I have been thinking a lot (in between – and during – many visits to soft plays, playgrounds and parks and while building castles and flying ships out of junk… it’s been a busy few weeks!) and some things are becoming clearer to me.

The long and short of it is: I need to blog less because as much as I love blogging, I love creative writing more.

I set up my blog to support me in my goal to becoming a published author. So far it has been fulfilling that aim (not that I’ve got very far along the road!) In particular, writing a creative piece from scratch every week to link up with Prose For Thought on Thursdays has been helpful. It’s pushed me to get a complete poem or story written for a deadline and (more importantly) got me over my fear of anyone reading what I’ve written. Yes, I know that probably sounds ridiculous – to aspire to having work published while being fearful of having any readers – but it’s true! I’m much less scared now though. And I’ve loved the support of the blogging/writing community through all of this.

But what I’m finding is that blogging is basically taking up all of my creative writing time. During these last school holidays, writing blog posts and taking part in linkys took up all of what little ‘me’ time I had. And demands on my time are only increasing now I’m back at work (even though I’m mostly working from home and in an ad hoc way!) so something has to give. Blogging has helped me with my writing so far, but it is now becoming a bit of a hindrance. I really want to be writing my book (in fact I’ve just had a new idea for a whole other book which I’m itching to get started on!) so I’m going to have to cut back on the blog.

So for the next month I’ve decided I’m going to stop writing for #Prose4T and stop taking part in any blog hops. I’ll still be doing my weekly limerick challenge on a Monday and I’ll post here on a Friday about how things are going but that’s it. This might not sound like a major cut-back, but I’m playing with such small chunks of time that it actually makes a massive difference!

I suspect I will miss the ‘hopping’ – and my Thursday posts in particular – but I want to see if doing this makes a difference. Hopefully I’ll be able to make some real progress with writing during May… watch this space.

a new challenge

leaves-IMG.jpg

It’s 11.23, I have a cup of tea in my hand and I’m going to write a blog post in the next 30 mins. It’s a little challenge I’m setting myself because I’m finding the blogging versus creative writing balance a bit of a struggle at the moment. Again.

Maybe that doesn’t sound like much of a challenge. Perhaps most other bloggers are speedy bloggers who reel off posts in the time it takes me to boil the kettle, get distracted my twitter, reboil the kettle, put a tea bag in my cup, realise the kettle needs boiling again, fill the cup and leave the tea to go cold… but for me it takes rather longer. Too long, I’ve decided.

Even if I write something fast I always seem to end up faffing around finding a photo or doing battle with WordPress which seems to like removing line breaks (anyone else have that problem? Argh!) and suddenly an hour or two has passed and I haven’t got time to write anything else.

So I’ve decided this post needs to be written and published by 11.53 (look at the top of the post – did I make it?) Ooooh the pressure!  It may be full of typos, grammatical mistakes and rambling sentences (or more of those than usual!) but worse things happen.

So, this is my weekly catch up post on ‘how my writing’s been going this week’ (not pleased with that sentence… will I have time to alter it before I hit publish?). As you may have gathered I’m struggling with finding time to write and wondering (again) about how much time I spend blogging. I’ve blogged about this issue before and decided that blogging was working really well as part of my creative writing ‘journey’. Particularly linking up with #Prose4T over at Verily Victoria Vocalises every Thursday is  making me write a creative piece to a deadline.

Obviously I don’t HAVE to link up, but I love that particular linky and think it’s useful to put myself under pressure to produce a ‘finished piece’ every week. Otherwise I have a tendency to re-write and re-write before abandoning whatever I’ve written having decided it’s a bit rubbish.

But I think if I’m ever going to write the book I keep wittering about then I need to focus on it. I don’t have much time available to do so –  just some baby nap times and my evenings (when I’m usually really knackered)  – so I need to use the time well. So I’m going to have to spend less time writing blog posts, blog hopping and social networking.

I would set myself a challenge for next week but the easter holidays are about to start which means I’ve got all three kids at home so I’m going to have to just wing it for the next couple of weeks!

But once the holidays are over I think I’ll try doing not more than 30 mins of blog-related activities a day. Which includes time spent writing pieces (poetry or prose) for #prose4T. That might give me some time to spend on my book.

Well, I’d love to be able to restructure this post a bit but It’s now 11.48 so I need to find a photo (quick! quick!) and publish it!