After the alphabet challenge

More than a week has gone by since I finished the alphabet blogging challenge,and in  some ways, I’m still missing it. I was surprised how important that daily challenge and commitment became; how I made sure I fulfilled it no matter what else I was doing. I enjoyed the fun of thinking of a new topic for each letter, especially the more difficult ones. The replies I had were interesting to read, and they helped me to keep going. I was relieved that only a couple of days went by without any responses. There was one particularly loyal blog follower who scarcely missed a day, and I really appreciated that.

Some people were kind enough to say I could turn it into an ebook, an A-Z of writing for beginning writers, and I’m  considering that. Although I might have to rewrite some of them – such as kettle for K. Not really much help for understanding the craft of writing!

So – lots of bonuses, but perhaps the biggest one (and the one that I partly started the challenge for) was that – after a fallow period – I was writing again. I was surprised how easily the word count grew, especially on some of the days. I kept telling myself that if I could do it with the blog, I could do it with my novel.

And yet, the nagging fear remained – writing a novel is much harder than writing a blog, even a daily one.  It’s an intellectual, psychological and emotional challenge that makes huge demands. And tackling the novel, you know you’re in for the long haul, not just for a month. Having written several novels, I worried I’d run out of steam.

But I love the idea for my new novel. I’m already fascinated by the characters and want to find out how their lives will unfold. Could I pick up the reins and start again when the blogging challenge was over?

I wondered whether to tackle NaNoWriMo this year. For people not familiar with that, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. It started some years ago, and now people all over the world try to write the first draft of a novel – or at least the first 50000 words of it – during the month of November! I know several people who’ve done it in previous years, and it is an amazing feat. A month of writing almost 2000 words a day.

And yet, even while I contemplated it, I sort of knew it’s not really for me. To maintain that number of words every day for a month, you have to write like mad, without pausing to think, edit, rewrite, research … there’s no time for any sort of ‘re-ing’ during NaNoWri,Mo. And that’s not really the way I work. I want to produce a reasonable number of words, if not every day, then at least, every week. But not at the expense of reflecting, reworking, rejigging. Some days might be very productive; others might seem barren, days when I sit at the computer and NOTHING comes. These days are bad enough without the panic NaNoWriMo would induce in me. And usually those days are not as barren as they might first seem. Something is going on in the subconscious, something that is likely to point to the next chapter’s direction, a character’s plotline, or a way to describe something that is not dull, obvious, or clichéd. But it might take time to come.

So, I decided I would start writing without the prop of NaNoWriMo. I would spend October writing the remaining character profiles, rough out an overall storyline and be ready to start in November.

But it looks as if telling myself to wait until November might have been good psychology. Yesterday I wrote 986 words, and today 1591! It’s the first draft of chapter four, and I’m feeling really pleased with myself. So pleased, in fact, that my back is sore from where I’ve been patting it! Fingers crossed I can keep it going.


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  1. Mo says:

    Well done, Lindsay! You are an inspiration to me – the original Nah, No Wri Mo! But watch this space …

  2. Lindsay says:

    Thanks, Mo. Not sure about the inspiration, but appreciate your saying so. You want to do it, so I’m sure you can – you just need to get your MO-jo working!

  3. Donna Brush says:

    I read EVERY blog post you wrote in September and NEVER commented *hangs head in shame*
    I enjoyed every one, and from the start of October missed them turning up daily in my inbox.

  4. Lindsay says:

    Thank you so much, Donna. I wasn’t trying to make anyone feel guilty about not commenting – just that the comments encouraged me to keep going and were lovely to receive. But I’m delighted that you read the posts and enjoyed them. That’s really nice to know.

  5. Christine says:

    Good to hear you’ve got your muse back. Interesting that once you’d decided to lay the groundwork for the novel and only really get going in November, that you found yourself able to produce the first draft of chapter 4. I think you’re right not to go the Nanowrimo route (I really don’t like that acronym or whatever it is!). As you know, I tried it, and yes, managed to get over 50k words down but as I’ve said on more than one occasion, I’m don’t think they were the right words in the right order. It wasn’t a complete waste of time but having written that many of the wrong words, going back to untangle them just wasn’t an option for me.

  6. Lindsay says:

    Interesting to hear your experience of NaNo … I think the experience you describe – too many wrong words in the wrong order – would probably hold true for me as well. I do want to be fairly free in early drafts, but not so that quantity is achieved at the expense of planning and rational thought. If one chapter or section takes me longer, then so be it!

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