So I crawled out of bed at 08:00 this morning, washed my gob, had a cup of coffee, smoked a couple of cigarettes then settled into my work chair, popped open my work machine and started typing. Just over 12 hours later (around 20:45), I’d typed out 17546 words. Yay me, right? Sort of.
I believe the exact challenge I set myself was to write a 17.5 thousand word novella in 24 hrs as per the ebook of a similar title. On the one hand, I succeeded in my goal of churning out over 15k words of fiction. I also managed it in (a sliver over) half the allotted time. That is sort of a win. On the other hand, I didn’t actually finish the story, which was probably the point of the exercise. In fact, I’d say there’s another good 10k words required before I can edit the hell out of it.
My eyes hurt, so I’ll keep this bit brief and maybe expand on it in the morning, but a couple of things struck me while I was strapped to my keyboard. They are (in no particular order):
1 – An outline is mega important for any writing project. Having the plot and structure mapped out before hand makes finding words a whole lot easier. I guess part of that is not having to find ideas as well as the words to express them.
2 – Sticking to that outline is also quite essential. Around the 10k word mark, something happened, I got a little side-tracked and ended up spilling a social justice tale, rather than a two-fisted pulp guts and glory shoot ’em up. Although it’ll probably give the tale more depth (post editing), the last 5k words were totally off track, had to be pulled out of my head on the spot (see note 1) and is probably the reason I don’t have a shiny product ready to edit.
3- If you’re going to make coffee every 45 minutes, it’s probably best to keep a pot or kettle close at hand. It may sound dumb (lets face it, the whole thing is a little dumb), but you tend to lose 15 minutes every hour dashing down stairs, waiting for the kettle to boil, pouring a cup of hot-and-black, smoking a cigarette and dashing back upstairs to get to work. Not only does it cut a massive chunk out of an hour, but it also breaks flow, and flow’s damned hard to find once it’s slipped.
4- The last thousand words is both the hardest and the easiest. I can’t remember the exact point that things really started to suck (although it’s clear as day on my twitter feed), but after twelve hours (ish. See below), I was ready to pluck out my eyes, cut off my hands and quit for good. The push to the end was quite a chore, and the last two thousand words sucked out every bit of enjoyment the project possibly had. I’m going to be honest, those last thousand almost didn’t happen. I was bored, tired and my eyes ached. It came down to a figurative coin toss – carry on and finish or go drown myself in the bath. Since I’m not keen on clean, I puked up just over 1k words in ten minutes. That’s a full 1/6th of an hour making shit up at 100 words per minute (I use yWriter and it has a little thing on it). It’s not as fun or epic as it sounds
5 – Getting out of the chair is a must. I mentioned that I have a couple of dogs (in a way). I love taking those little blighters out into the woods. Despite today’s silly games, I couldn’t let them lounge around the house, bored out of their cutsie little skulls, legs crossed and in desperate need of a tiddle. Around half eleven, I strapped on their lead and took them out for a stroll. I’m almost certain that walk gave me enough time and fresh air to punch a bit of life back into my aching grey matter and carry me through to the end.
6 – This does not feel like a victory. I’ve been writing for years. The first time I made money, I was still in my (very) early twenties. Last year was first since then that I’ve not only not earned any beer tokens with words, but also the first time I’ve not actually written anything worth publishing. I’ll be honest and say not writing for over a year was pretty crushing. There’s that strange ‘creative’ thing that burrows into your psyche and kind becomes your identity. Although I’ve been back on point this year, I figured that smashing out a (relatively) big project in such a short space of time would have me dancing through the trees sipping Black Rat from an old boot. Nope. My eyes ache a little, I’m a bit restless (probably the coffee) but mostly I get the feeling that if I hadn’t taken the dogs out, today would have been a total right-off. I kinda get the impression it’s because I got lost along the way and didn’t actually finish the story. My previous personal best was 11k donkey’s years ago on a day when the sun shined, birds sang and everything was peachy (that story was total junk though). Today, I not only beat my personal best, I hammered it into submission and used its corpse to fertilize the daisies. It’s bizarre, but I really thought I’d feel like I’d achieved something. Maybe it’ll feel better on the re-write.
7 – This is probably the most important one. Considering today is February 14th, and I just spent 12+ hours writing dodgy post-apocalyptic escape fiction, I’ve declared to the internet what a bad-ass lonely loser I am 😉
Anyway, I have some photies of my climbing word count that I can post (if anyone actually gives a toss), but that’s enough from me. There’s something in the air and its freaking the dogs out which is, in turn, making me as jumpy as hell. I’m going to try and get some sleep but I’ll probably spend my night between soothing the mutts and trying to wake up from shitty night mares.