Nanowrimo – Report card #2

8th Nov 2010

Nanowrimo – Report card #2

Are you doing Nanowrimo this year? How are you getting on so far, heading into this, the second week?

We’ve got the second report card from Jo, spreading the Nanowrimo love and sharing the pain…

Week Two

My first week of NaNoWriMo has come and gone with ebbs and flows, fits and starts, tea and coffee and way too many sandwiches. I’ve passed the 10,000 word mark – which sounds impressive but isn’t because everyone else seems to have written about 18,000 words. At the beginning of the week, I still had no idea what I was actually going to write about. When office-job Monday ended and I was finally ready to get started I discovered, to my horror, a lot of Wrimos were way ahead of me already. As eager writers, they’d taken the initiative to start writing at the stroke of midnight and were, therefore, a good two thousand words in. By 6pm Monday evening, I had written nothing.

Thankfully, one of the Wrimos in my area had arranged a three hour write-in at a nearby cafe. I went along hoping that this would give me a kick start, and much to my relief, it did. Armed with a notebook (and no pen, which I only realised on my way to the café, stopped and was all “Crapulance, I don’t have pen. That’s going to be awkward,” so then I had to go home and the Novelist was all “Aren’t you supposed to be at a write-in?” and I was all “Dude, where’s my pen?” and then I started freaking out because even though there’s only the two of us living in our flat and we’re both aspiring writers, we have a distinct pen famine, so I couldn’t find a pen that actually worked, and then I pretty much ransacked my office and eventually discovered that, actually I did have a fully functional pen in my bag after all), I was ready to start writing.

At 8:30pm I had written the first two thousand words (ish) of my nano-novel. Then gave up and went home before the write-in was over because I’d run out of ideas I was hungry my arm was aching from all the furious scribing.

On Tuesday, I admitted defeat with the whole writing longhand scenario, convinced myself I was going to get RSI (after procrastinating on Wikipedia) and swiftly acquired a laptop for freesies, courtesy of my friend IT Guy, who had one ‘just lying around’.

Feeling a bit smug with a laptop instead of a tattered, coffee-stained notebook, I was even more enthusiastic about writing my story. Unfortunately, what I had failed to realise until now, is that enthusiasm doesn’t directly equate to productivity. I am very enthusiastic about sandwiches, for example. I will, when the mood strikes me, spend an unfeasibly lengthy amount of time talking about sandwiches with so much enthusiasm you’d think I was some kind of professional sandwich chef (if such a thing even exists). However, my enthusiasm for sandwiches doesn’t necessarily mean that I will physically go to the effort of making one.

That’s a lot like writing. Just because I have a laptop, two thousand words and an idea I’ve grown to be happy with, doesn’t mean that by taking myself off to a café to write I’m actually going to get anything done. In fact, it means I’m going to write a couple of paragraphs and reward myself with coffee and sandwiches that someone else made.

By the end of Thursday, I had eaten too many sandwiches written 6500 words and was feeling a little too pleased with myself. Whenever I feel I have completed something, even if it’s the simple of tasks, I feel that I deserve some kind of reward for my efforts. So I decided to give myself Thursday night off. In hindsight, this was a massive error in judgement and by the weekend, I was seriously lagging behind again.

This write-in, proved to be another great experience and not just because of all the coffee and sandwiches, but because sitting with other people who are also writing is motivating. If you are taking part in NaNoWriMo this year, I thoroughly recommend going to at least one write-in in your area. Personally, I found it much easier to work amongst other people who were writing. Okay, so being in a corporate coffee shop in the centre of town, we inevitably got a few strange looks every now and again, and one person even asked us what game we were playing, as if we were locked in some kind of epic ‘World of Warcraft’ battle. Obviously, we just oozed a nerdy aura that invited such questions.

Speaking of battles, every hour we had a ‘Word War’- a fifteen minute writing race to see who can write the most words in the allotted time. As I had consumed too much coffee and seeing as anything that suggests a competition (be it light-hearted or otherwise) sends my anxiety into hyper drive and I feel under pressure to perform and so my fingers went a bit mad and I pretty much forgot how to type and couldn’t remember any words, whatsoever, from the English language.

For the record, I can type very quickly when no one is watching.

As I write this, I’m still stuck at the 10k mark. I haven’t actually written anything today and I’m blaming the Novelist because he offered to take me out to lunch, which in my brain, suggested more sandwiches. Obviously, I agreed and the rest of the day was pretty much lost to nothingness.

I’m hoping to be more productive and organised next week now that the initial hell of week one is over. I’m also hoping to change my diet and exercise as all the sandwiches are making me feel bloated and sleepy, which doesn’t motivate me to write. So tell me, where are we at?

Guest post by Jo (Jo and The Novelist)


  • Great report, Jo! If you can write your book like this, it’s going to be a bestseller!

    I’m not in NanoWriMo so I’m shouting from the side lines, but I think you should see it as a competition with yourself, not with others. Let them write 18K! You do what you can, and maybe you get some amazing inspiration and write 5,000 words in one day!

    Good luck!