Thursday, 14 May 2009

A Word Marathon - Elen Caldecott

As I write this (on Wednesday night), my eyes are bleary, my head is filled with jam and my bed seems like the most beautiful place in the world.

But, I can’t go there yet.

Because, you see, writing this blog entry is a Nicola MorganTM Work Avoidance Strategy. I am hours away from the end of a word marathon – Nanowrimo style. A rough draft of a novel in 31 days, to be precise.

It seemed like a ridiculous idea when Ally Kennen suggested it to me; find a group of writers willing to write 50,000 words in a month and log their progress in public (it’s actually a yahoo group, but still, your word count is there for people you’ve never met to see!). But, a group was duly found. And, for the last just-under-a-month, we’ve been hard at it. Some have dropped out, some will carry on after the month is up, some will hopefully hit 50,000 and be able to watch Eurovision guilt-free.

It’s been a really interesting experience. There were some people who thought it was a bad idea – the quality will be so bad it will depress you; real writers have to let the story come in its own time; you won’t have time to think through your choices properly.
All valid points.
Especially, the point about the quality, boy oh boy, that one’s true alright.

But I have learned a lot about myself as a writer.
First of all, writing has to come top of my to-do list for the day. No nonsense. It’s my job. Full stop.
Second, if it can’t come top of the to-do list, it can still be fitted in. Even on a really busy day, a fifteen minute burst can produce 500 words. Three of those in a day will move the novel on by one scene.
And, finally, I really like working with other people around me – even if they’re virtual people. I like the support. It feels a bit more like ‘going to the office’. I think it would be lovely if there were writer’s studios, in the same way as there are artist’s studios. With a water cooler. And a photocopier. And dress-down Fridays. And Christmas parties...

Oh dear, I must be more tired than I thought.
But, I can’t stop, I’m on 47,690 words and my MC is stranded in the desert, a nomad army surrounds him and the water's run out...and I’ve only ‘til the end of Thursday to rescue him.
Elen's Facebook Page


Nicola Morgan said...

Well, of COURSE I agree, as I was with you all the way! You said: "First of all, writing has to come top of my to-do list for the day. No nonsense. It’s my job. Full stop. Second, if it can’t come top of the to-do list, it can still be fitted in."
That is exactly what I learnt too. It might surprise non-authors that we had to learn that but I think once you become published the danger can be that you get so wrapped up in everything ELSE about being a writer (the easier bits) that the hard bit (writing) goes down and down the list. Thanks so much for organising the Nano, Elen.

And to anyone thinking about trying it one day - I do recommend it. It changed some things about me that i thought were fixed habits. The other day I even wrote 800 words while having my hair highlighted!

Anne Rooney said...

And you did it, Elen! Well done :-) And well done Nicola. I was one who dropped out. Shameful, I know, but I'd picked the wrong book and it wasn't going to be told what to do in 30 days. I'd do it again, though - thank you so much for organising :-)

Nicola, writing while having your hair highlighted is awesome. Sadly, I do my own, so that would be very tricky. Could dictate, I suppose...

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