Saturday, April 12, 2008

Writing marathons, word sprints and stealing time

Okay I must be crazy. I've said yes to writing another 50,000 words in June. As if doing it in November isn't enough.

My real life writer friends think I'm crazy and not one of them has dared take up the Nanowrimo challenge with me. (I can barely get them to commit to 100 words a day). But they admire my prolific output. Because with the training I have had from four Nanowrimos challenges, I am becoming a prolific writer. Just not a prolific editor. So at the moment, I have four complete first drafts (ranging from 50k to 110k each), one almost complete at 53k (approx another 6k to go), and a halfway there story of 25k.

I have a full time job, plus I give up a day a month to do the accounting for my father's business. So how do I manage to find the time to write?

As Anna Jacobs said in the seminar at last year's conference: 'Life won't give you the time to write. You have to steal it.'

So I do steal time and I make the most of all the little pockets of time available to me because it all adds up. Fifteen minutes here, fifteen minutes there. Waiting for the doctor, waiting for my partner to pick me up after work, grab some time in my teabreak. Maybe it wasn't the smartest time to write a skydiving scene when I was waiting for my blood pressure to be measured (had to wait another ten minutes and test again) but there you have it....that's how I write.

I'm also a big fan of 'word wars' and 'word sprints'. During Nanowrimo last year and in 2006, I would get online and challenge a writer friend in Canberra to 'word wars'. I could write 1200 words in half an hour. We would use this Talking Alarm Clock to time ourselves. You can program the wizard to congratulate you when the time is up, and even play a song from your music library.

I'm a pantser although I generally get to about 3/4 through the story and then I have to write the final scene (or at least outline it). I liken it to taking a joyride but towards the end of the ride, I need to decide on a destination so I can work out how to get there, so I just haven't driven around in circles the whole time. While I'm doing a writing challenge, I don't spend much time looking back, I don't edit, I just try to keep going forward. Sometimes this means that I write scenes out of order because I write the scene that is calling to me next.

Probably the hardest thing I find with a writing challenge like this is that after 50k, I still have more to write, but I'm usually pooped from all that writing. (Especially if I write over 6000 words on the last evening as I did last year) and then I have to motivate myself to finish the next 50k words without the amazing community of writers all striving for the same thing.

So when I finish the first draft of Beyond Happily Ever After, I will have finished 3 first drafts in 2.5 years (I'm with the Band started November 2005). I possibly may have finished 4 first drafts in 4 years but I'm not sure when I started writing 'Making the Cut'.

I have no idea what I will be writing yet in June, but I think in May I will set up an Edit in a Month challenge for the others of us who have completed first drafts that need editing.

This picture is me holding my 2006 Nanowrimo effort Diary of the Future. Luckily the whole story was told in just over 50k as it is young adult. that year offered a free copy of your novel if you had completed the 50k so I did a quick edit, designed a cover, and have my name on a real physical book - the only copy that exists at this point.


Sandie Hudson said...

Diane thankyou so much for sharing your NaNo story. It is so good to see how each person tackles their writing. I'm a lot like you. I fly by the seat of my pants to start with (which is the only flying I'd ever do), then I have to not plan but have a little idea of what or where my characters are doing or going.

I love our writing sprints they help to train you to write on the run. As you say stealing time here and there.

Gotta go, I'm on my way back from Grafton and my lappy is about to die. Love ya and thanks again


Rachel.C said...

(really bad whiny voice) I wanna book with my name on it......
Great post, and I've got my hand up to join you for the editing month. I'm not saying how many I've got to edit.

Diane said...

Rachel, I think we should make it a rule that we only edit one that month, otherwise we'll be all over the place. Maybe pick the one that's the closest to finished and we can also spend some time working on queries and a synopsis.

Ooh Sandie, you've got real wireless. I've only got 'inhouse' wireless.

I'm missing you guys tonight!

Sandie Hudson said...

I'm home NOW. Email will be on it's way shortly.

I'm not gunna get whiny, but I wanna book too.

I've missed you guys today as well.

:-( Nomone understands me like you guys do. Miss Diane you would be soooo proud of me I did 568 words on the way up. YAYAYA.

Then I did another 8 pages long hand (very hard when travelling in car over bumps and hitting holes and going around corners). Unfortunately it wasn't on one of my present WIP, nooooo it was some chick named Clare who is travelling in a bus from ? to ? at this stage and chatting to an elderly lady on her way to her daughters.

I have a feeling that Harriet is going to be tied up with Clare further down the line. Where the HELL are these people coming from???? Enough, already!!!!

Love ya both.


Kerri Williams writer of romance said...

Hi Diane, I found you through the long trip of friendly blogs. I'm really interested in this 50k in 30 day challenge. could you possible fill me in on the details.
I look forward to hearing from you, it's always great to talk to new people.
happy writing