Nanowrimo – Report Card #3

Nanowrimo - Report Card #3

Nanowrimo 2010 – Jo brings us her weekly update…

Week 3

The first week after quitting smoking is known as ‘Hell Week’. Apparently, week two of NaNoWriMo is similar to hell week, only with less nagging nicotine pangs, and more frustration at the prospect of having to spend the rest of the month writing a lot of words every single day. Week two is, apparently, the time when a lot of Wrimos sigh, close their laptops, throw down their pens and quit NaNoWriMo. Perhaps it’s that the initial enthusiasm for writing has worn off, and the prospect of writing roughly 1700 words per day has become less of a creative joy and more like a tedious, monochrome chore just like doing homework, or laundry or paying the council tax. Or maybe it’s that after the first 10k is out of the way, you get to that frustrating beginning-middle section of your story; where everything is all set up and ready to go, but sadly you’re not really sure where it’s going to, so the story just hovers in limbo for a while, until you can figure out a bit more of the plot. Or maybe you’re beginning to lose interest in your main character; someone who once seemed charismatic with a good story to tell, has since gone all mundane and you now want to just kill them off and replace them with someone new, Hollyoaks-stylee.

There are various reasons to quit, and it’s easier to quit sooner rather than later, but there’s no point in quitting during week one because, well, because it’s week one, but if you leave it longer than week two, and say quit in week three, then you’ve gone too far and what you have written will seem like a big waste of your time. 

After submitting my second report last Sunday evening, I was already growing tired of writing my story. Essentially, I knew that a big boring section was coming up and I had to get through all that before I could start writing the more interesting stuff. And then it struck me that I was referring to my own story as boring which, let’s face it, doesn’t bode particularly well. In wondering how I could make it not boring, I suddenly realised that I was writing my story in a linear structure, which isn’t the way I normally write. I don’t know how other people structure their writing but I prefer to write from the middle to the end to the beginning back the end and then fill in all the missing bits in between (if this is too complicated to follow, then please consult the scientific diagram below).

Admittedly, it is a slightly long-winded process, but I like to be surprised when I’m writing. I don’t like to think too much about the order until I’ve actually written everything I wanted to put in the story. Okay, so the editing process is long and tedious (it’s a total ball-ache) but the actual writing process is much more spontaneous and fun (in the loosest sense of the term).

Pre-empting that this week was going to be nightmarish, I decided to work every day, and not, as I had done the previous week, frequently reward myself with nights off, sandwiches and watching bad Asian horror movies. Sadly, I didn’t get off to the best start, as I missed Monday’s local write-in and things steadily went downhill from there. Whenever the weather is bad, as it had been this week, I am dissuaded massively from leaving the house. I will stubbornly refuse to go out in wind and rain unless it is absolutely necessary. So when my long office-based Monday had finally reached an end and I had made it all the way home in the wind and rain and was soaked and tired and grumpy and cold and my brain was deep in the clutches of PMT, the last thing I could contemplate doing was leaving the house again to go somewhere and write for three hours. Okay, so I hadn’t done any work, but I had walked in the wind and rain. And I had every intention of going to the write in, but the weather killed my enthusiasm. And I had PMT. So I gave myself a night off and ate doughnuts. Did I mention the wind and the rain? I spent most of Tuesday sitting at the kitchen table, staring into space and occasionally punching out the odd paragraph, and then stopping so I could look forlornly out of the window only to witness what appeared to be torrential rain storms, and old-ladies being blown into nearby trees. Upset that I was sat in my grubby kitchen, and not in a local arts bar, I proceeded to eat more doughnuts. Midway through a free lasagne during my busy administrative Wednesday, I vaguely remembered that last week I had vowed to exercise more, in an attempt to motivate myself. Sadly, I hadn’t anticipated that going from zero exercise to doing intense circuit training would make me feel completely exhausted, significantly injured, less like I wanted to write and more like I wanted spend lots of time in bed sleeping. On Thursday morning, I discovered I could no longer walk without experiencing masses of pain in my legs, and thus was confined to another uneventful day of domestic chores, writing at the kitchen table, and generally feeling uninspired. What’s worse – I also ran out of coffee.

As I write this up, I cannot be happier that week two is over. I’ve crossed the 20k threshold and I’m almost at the half-way point. I sustained a circuit-training injury, endured lack of inspiration from the outside world, and discovered an accidental linear style of writing, and still managed not to quit (surely that deserves a doughnut, right?). The worst is over, I hope, we’re onto week three and like I said before, it’s too late to quit now.

So tell me Wrimos – has your week two been Hell Week?

Post by Jo (Jo and The Novelist)