The Big 2000

Exactly how hard is it to write 2000 words?

This is a question I want to answer before I begin my attempt at November’s NaNoWriMo. I know from experience that I often have trouble following through a task I set myself. Weather this is because I lose interest, or I reach a point where the task becomes difficult, or I simply run out of time, it boils down to the same outcome. Half finished projects, ideas, courses, and a distinct disappointed feeling about a week later.

Deadlines seem to help. When I was at university I majored in Procrastination, which meant that all my assignments were half-assed the night before they were due. Surprisingly, I still managed to pass every subject and got (reasonably) alright marks. While this isn’t the best approach, it might mean that I will be able to get a lot done in a small amount of time. I might consider organising some days off work towards the end of November to really push things along.

Another issue I have is distraction. I find that I can’t work while the TV is on, or if Patrice is around and wants to talk. As long as I have some time to dedicate to the task and am alone, usually in a different location than where I normally relax, I am able to hammer out some good work. In September Patrice and I are going on a week long vacation to Bribie Island, and I am hoping to really nut out the plan for my story. It will be a good test of endurance to see if I can work on something with a bit of gusto, but it will also see if Patrice can stand me spending so much time on something other than just spending time wit her. If this has any impact on her, I will probably not invest myself in it.

The most important thing for me will be sleep. If I am tired at all (from anything less than about 8 hours sleep) my work ethic drops to near-zero levels. This is even in my day job. If I am well-rested I am capable of a lot, and I find I have a much longer attention span, can multi-task better, work harder, and don’t fall asleep when I could be doing something more interesting like reading. Exactly how much sleep I need I’m not sure, but from past experience the amount seems to be “more the merrier!”.

When Patrice was doing shift at a hospital in Brisbane which started at 7am we were heading to bed around 9pm. This usually ended up being closer to 9:30, which meant that I was getting around 9 hours sleep each night (or at least 8:30). During those two weeks I read three whole novels, smashed out a few weeks worth of an online programming course I was doing, updated my website, and was around 1400% more productive than my usual, tired self. This is how I want November to be.

To reach the 50000 word goal I will need to write (minimum) 1667 word per day. I’m not sure exactly how long that is going to take. Sure, I can type pretty quick, but when it comes to creative writing (even what I am typing now) it’s not that fast. I need to stop and think about what I want to say and try my darnedest and cut down the number of commas I use. When I re-read what I write that is one of the big things that seems to crop up. It has the inflection of how I say it, but the sentences just don’t need the pause.

Another thing I have been thinking about is what I am going to use to write. I find that pen and paper is too slow and painful (I hold pens like I don’t want them to live any more) and my computer too impractical. I have a netbook (Samsung NC110) which is pretty light and has a battery which lasts a good number of hours, but the keyboard is a little bit small and the screen resolution is just low enough to really annoy me lately. I do think that the netbook will end up being my weapon of choice during November however. It’s the most practical and portable solution that doesn’t involve me typing thousands of words on a touch screen.

What it all boils down to is passion. Do I want to write? Do I enjoy creating fiction? That’s something that I just won’t know until I start. The best outcome would be creating something good, or even great, and being really proud of what I accomplished. If I start only to find I don’t enjoy what I am doing, that is an acceptable outcome as well. What would really bum me out would be if I started, enjoyed it, but didn’t finish because I just was lazy.

I guess we will have to wait and see.