Today’s post is the first of a new series of posts journalling my writing life. I will write a weekly post on how the past weeks writing process has gone. I will post the good, the bad and the downright ugly. And there will be plenty of ugly days and weeks when my ill-health gets the better of me and I can’t drag myself to my laptop. You will be able to see what it’s like as a disabled writer and for the next month, what it’s like when I set myself a pretty tough goal, because, yes, November is NaNoWriMo.
And for those of you who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s short for National Novel Writing Month, where hundreds of thousands of writers around the globe come together on the NaNoWriMo website and try to write a novel (or more specifically 50,000 words) in a month. 1st – 30th November. That’s 1,667 words a day. Every single day, seven days a week.
But, I won’t just be diarising November, I am going to keep this series running and it’s going to be a brutally honest account of a writers life. If I’m having a successful writing week or a dismal one.
I hope in doing this that I will be able to maybe inspire another writer who may be struggling with ill-health, that they too can achieve what they set out to do. Or show someone who is short on time, but wants to write that you can still do this. (I can’t sit and write for long periods of time.)
So, shall we start straight away and look at the past week?
Eek. Here goes…
First of all a brief bit of background for those of you who don’t know about my health. I live with the genetic condition Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and the secondary condition Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. EDS means I live in constant pain and one of the most problematic areas for me at the moment is an unstable neck. I am under a spinal consultant for this, but the pain is unbearable most days and I spend a lot of time horizontal because I can’t bear the weight of my own head. Both EDS and POTS mean I live with constant fatigue. So each day feels like I am wading through mud. But… I still have a life to live and writing gives me that life. I love writing and creating new worlds and new stories. It gives me a real buzz. Nothing will stop me from doing it.
NaNoWriMo started last Thursday. I didn’t sign up until about 4pm that day because I was undecided until then if I was even going to do it. You see, I’m currently editing a novel, but I’ve always wanted to join in with NaNo, so I decided I would just do both! So, I signed up and I did that days word count before the end of the day. As you can imagine, being short notice and still getting my word count in, that got me really motivated. It was a real thrill. And the NaNo site has a graph so you can see your word count going up every day and if it is where it is expected to be for that day. I love this graph. I need one of these graphs in my life at any time I’m writing a novel!
The reason I was able to write those words so easily? Because I had been umming and ahhing about doing NaNo and had drafted a partial synopsis (I’m a plotter) so I did have something ready to go. It’s not the best synopsis I’ve ever written, in fact it’s pretty bare, but it is the bones of the idea and is enough to have kicked me off and to have kept me going so far. Yesterday was day 6 and I finished on 11,000 words. 1,000 ahead of target. I like to get ahead when I can because it gives me some cushioning for the days I know will creep up on me when I’m going to struggle. So, I won’t take it easy today just because I can, I’ll keep adding that cushioning, ready for when I’ll need it.
How can I write the amount of words I’m writing if I’m ill? you might be asking. Well, after many many months trying to figure this out myself I have finally found a routine that works for me and it works really well. And that is working in 15-minute bursts. That way I’m not in agony when I finish and I can go and rest when I’m done. When I first started doing this I was writing about 250-300 words in 15 minutes. Now I can write between 5-600 words per 15 minutes. That’s 2,000 words in an hour. Four very small separate writing sessions. They really don’t feel like you’ve done any work at all. And so long as you’re a plotter and know what you’re going to write, then the session itself is reasonably easy.
As I mentioned, I have another project on the go. I haven’t worked on it for the past six days as I’ve got myself into a NaNo rhythm but tomorrow I am going to pick it back up again. Tomorrow I start working on both projects at once. It’s half a book that needs tightening up before I can progress with the second half. I’ve run through it once already. Tomorrow I read through it to see how it reads now and make some notes and I’ll go from there.
How do I manage to fit all this in a day? Well, I’m quite lucky in that I do have all day. I have from waking in a morning to going to bed in the evening. My kids are old enough now where they don’t want to spend time with me. So my time is my own. Something is wrong if I can’t find 4 separate 15-minute sessions in a full day to do my NaNo work and then find a little more time to do the other project. And still have plenty of time to rest.
That’s this week all wrapped up. Come back next Wednesday and I’ll let you know how it’s gone trying to keep up with two projects at once. See if I’m still on track with NaNoWriMo and find out if I needed any days off.
Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year?