Tag Archives: creative challenge

Time is an illusion, writing time doubly so.

So, what a difference two weeks or so can make. Since I last wrote about my plans for NaNoWriMo, I’ve had my work shifts increase in number, been thrust into the lead role for handling the projection equipment at church and had a family member go through a serious accident- all when I was close to burning out anyway. There have definitely been times when trying to just go through all the jobs that need doing now, before November even starts, have felt not only like treading water in the middle of the ocean, waiting to be rescued, but as if I were doing so with the anchor and chain off a battleship lashed around my legs- or at least that is the image that has come most readily to mind.


An anchor about this size is about what I’ve been picturing.

With all that, some of you must be asking yourselves, why would I even consider still going through with NaNoWriMo? In fact, there have been moments when I’ve even asked that of myself- but it’s not about winning for me this year. Don’t get me wrong, if circumstances permit, I’ll still try for the fifty thousand words, but this year the winning certificate is not why I’m doing this. I’m doing this because writing has served as a means of stress relief for me in the past, a means of venting my frustrations without putting somebody else into the line of fire- and right now, I desperately need that. Anything else I get out of this will be a bonus this year.

Now, to get into an account of my writing preparations for November so far. There’s not a vast amount to report- I’ve worked the barest bones of my story, which is largely going to be a sword and sorcery style work of fantasy (and if anybody disputes whether a Christian like myself should be writing fantasy novels, I would refer you to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and in particular C.S. Lewis) and I’ve started work on the main characters and a map that still has a lot of blank space on it, that’s about as far as I’ve got at the moment.


You’re trying to do what in a month?

Okay guys, it’s that time of year again- the time of year when I (and some of those who know me) swap what social time we have available to us for looking intently at notes and computers.

That’s right, in just over a month’s time, it will once again be November, and throughout the course of November, National Novel Writing Month will be going on; the challenge, for those who choose to participate, being to write fifty thousand or more words of a novel within the month of November, with successful participants averaging 1,667 words every day during that period.

 Book PageThe end result to look something like this- clearly.

But that’s crazy, I hear at least some of you say, that’s a ridiculous amount of work to add in to your schedule around other commitments such as work or education, why would you even consider doing that? And you’re right, it is a crazy amount of work, but it is the sort of crazy that gets the creative juices flowing, the adrenaline pumping and gets you up and enthusiastic at times of day that you’d rather pretend don’t exist the rest of the year round. It’s the sort of crazy that takes you past the boredom of day to day getting by and going through the motions of living on days when you might otherwise just be stumbling from one task to the next and gives you something in between them to drive you onwards.

I’m sure that some of you are also asking what is in it for you?- what exactly would you  get out of participating? What, in fact, do I get out of participating, considering that I’m not a professional writer and for all that I have completed more than fifty thousand words in every year that I have particpated, I haven’t yet finished the first draft of one of these stories, let alone begun the process of editing and revision that takes a first draft and thrusts it back into the fire to burn off the imperfections to produce something that begins to approach a standard that is worth being published. But even if you don’t have the courage to take a draft on towards publication, or if you don’t even have the time to achieve the full fifty thousand words within November, you’ve still achieved something- because in all likelihood, the words that you wrote- however many they may be- are words you might not have written otherwise, and the process is at times therapeutic, though at other times, the process makes you want to tear out your hair in frustration, just like any other writer will (seriously, check out some of the pep-talks on the NaNoWriMo website, you’ll see respected and prolific authors such as Neil Gaiman sharing not only the high points of their experience writing books, but also their frustrations and low points- the times when even with the knowledge that they have already sold books, they don’t quite know why they’re still writing).


Although, possession of distinctive banners can be reason enough for some.

One of the other questions you’re probably asking (and one I would be asking if I were in your shoes), is why are you bringing it up now? November’s still a month away, so why is this thing so important to discuss right now?  And you’re right, November is a month away at this stage, and I could quite easily leave this until November and just start writing then, with no idea what I was wirting until I started, but I don’t work well like that, and though I did end up doing exactly that one year, it was uncomfortable and it wasn’t my best work (even by the standards of first drafts)- and so we come to why the time ahead of November is so utterly essential to me, and to others who can’t feel comfortable going into this with no preparation at all- October (or indeed a few more months before November) is critical for myself and others as a time for planning- for working out at least a little of the story we intend to write in advance so that we have some small framework to keep us going in the direction intended.

This is the stage of the process which I have just begun- and which will be ongoing until November begins- and it’s a process that never ceases to fascinate me, as the story takes on a life of its own, even before leaving the planning stages as the leaps that my mind takes in coming to these ideas are ones that even I struggle to follow on occasion. But this time, I want to try and document my journey here, no matter that it will be recounted in the fumbling steps of somebody who doesn’t entirely know what they’re doing with this blogging thing.