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. Lulu.com 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.