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Tuesday, 8 December 2015


NaNoWriMo packed away for a another year, chalked up the fourth win with Clear Water, a look at the beginnings of the Grange and its residents and visitors, still very much a work in progress and unlike earlier NaNo novels, this one is strictly off line.

The word count was posted regularly so visitors to cheekyseagull could keep tabs on how the challenge was progressing through November, but the actual writing was behind the scenes. It has meant that things have been quiet here for the last month, and thanks to all who dropped by during that time.

Four times now I've thrown myself in at the deep end and rattled through the NaNoWriMo challenge, (five if you add the Camp NaNoWriMo in August I used to reboot The Obedience of Fools,) and I know it has its supporters and detractors. No prizes for guessing which side of the line you will find me! However, following various bloggers who have taken the challenge this year has provided food for thought. RJ Crayton shared her experience with a weekly posting in November, each week looking back on the previous seven days, but what caught my attention was the discussion of deadlines. A post, post NaNoWriMo on Why I Won't Be Doing This Again has some excellent comments and insights, as do her replies to comments on the post. Chris Baty, one of the leading lights of the Office of Letters and Light, and author of No Plot No Problem, cites the deadline as the writer's secret weapon.

Douglas Adams is remembered for how he loved the whoosh of deadlines as they flew by unmet, delighting in missing them to the chagrin of his publishers.

The first post unpacked the question of art and craft, where does writing as an art become a craft, and does the meticulous procrastination of the artist waiting the arrival of their muse conflict with the insistence of the craftsman with a deadline to meet. They are both valid work ethics, but to denigrate one at the expense of the other, how does that work?

The reality of the day job is that you have to knuckle down and get on with it, and that's the answer for me. Daydreaming for the right word would send me round the bend, I would simply end up daydreaming, and tootling around the Internet being endlessly distracted.

The essence of NaNoWriMo is the adoption of the work ethic, the job must be done within the deadline, and Yes, I know that once the last day of November has ticked over the line into the first of December the novel isn't finished. There is still a lot more to come, but a big chunk of it is in the bag. How much of the chunk relative to the completed book is like a piece of string, but at a rough guess, if you chuck them across an A4 page single spaced, times new roman 12 point, you are looking at the thick end of ninety pages.

The more you think about it, the more daunting the prospect becomes. Fifty thousand words, and thirty days. That's 744 hours or 44,640 minutes, so working on that, fifty thousand words in 44,640 minutes, gives one and a bit words a minute.

No problem, but that's if you have nothing else to do, no work, eat, sleep, bathe, etc, and no-one has that, So fifty thousand words in thirty days is challenging!

The end of the month is never going to be the end of the story for me, unless I hit the mother lode of inspiration and by some freakish burst of creativity my typing speed accelerates, not likely since I'm a strictly two finger typist. December the first always arrives with those irritating words hanging over me - To Be Continued... I just need to give myself a shove to continue!

As a practice for the development of writing habits and finding out what works for you it has value, even if the end result is that you never want to try it again, and come the end of the month the idea of another evening spent with the rattle of a keyboard in your ears makes you grab your keys and head for the pub. Add it to your bucket list of things you have done, I wrote a novel in a month, tick!

For the purists who say a 50,000 word novel is too short, it should be a novella! I say call it what you like. The Great Gatsby By F Scott Fitzgerald is a novel of 50,000 words.

Will I be back for another go in 2016, probably is the answer. I'll be ready for a new tee shirt!

Clear Water will continue in the background the rest of the Grange series are available through Smashwords and major retailers, check the links at cheekyseagull.co.uk. Grab yourself a piece of the action!

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