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Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I'm completely absorbed in National Novel Writing Month, even if it has imposed some strange and harsh disciplines on me. The aim is to write an original novel of 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. At first glance, my reaction was suitably Clarksonian - how hard CAN it be?

The answer is very hard indeed. The nanowrimo (sic) site offers lots of fancy tools to tell you how you're doing, or not. You can paste your output into a widget and it tells you - in my experience at least - how far behind target you are. The initial maths is easy. You have to write around 1660 words a day, every day. Of course, every day is different. You think 'I'll do a lot at the weekend and catch up'. That would be fine if it was a mechanical process but, dammit, you're writing a novel. there's a creative process behind it all. You have to people your novel with characters and situations that have some kind of authenticity. If you lose sight of this, you might as well just cut and paste 'blah blah blah' over and over.

So when my alarm goes off at 6.30am, I'm already resentful of the tyranny the daily target has imposed upon me. I hope, that by osmosis, a great idea has occurred to me while I have been asleep. In my dressing gown and sucking on the first tea of the day, I batter away for an hour until it's time to get ready for work. At lunchtime, like a compulsive exerciser, I have to get some more words down. I go home, eat my tea, do whatever I have to do and get back to it. Usually after 1am I collapse into bed, having checked if I have made any ground on the target.

I will complete in time, even though my graph of achievement flatlines twice for days on end. On a good day, I could rattle off four or even five thousand words. On that kind of form I could nanowrimo in ten days.

Is my novel any good? Probably not. I'm not doing this again. Probably.

I can't help thinking that the number of words in this blog would have taken me over my daily target had they been nano words. Acording to the widget, I'll complete on Dec 7th. Watch this space!

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