Last Sunday, on Day 9, I wanted to give up.
I was nearly 6,000 words behind, which had happened completely by accident and totally took me by surprise. Those 6,000 words felt like a mountain that I not only couldn't climb but I didn't even have the strength to give it a go. I was tired and downhearted and frankly, disappointed in myself. It is quite astonishing how just missing two days of writing enough words can mean you are 1000s behind. That was a very important lesson I learnt this week.
I was due to fly home to Amsterdam from the UK and I woke early that morning - around 5am - and my initial thought was "Get up and write. Here's your chance to catch up."
But I didn't. I rolled over, I pulled the duvet around me tighter and I closed my eyes. I was tired, I was restless and I had almost convinced myself that I didn't have to go ahead and do NaNoWriMo this year. It was enough to have done two successful years and to be in charge of 30 days of blog posting that would help other people.
I quickly learned that while you can close your eyes to the world outside, you can't close your eyes on the world inside your head. And there was a battle going on in there. Half of me wanted to get up, get writing and solve one of the problems that was making me feel lousy. The other half craved rest, and sleep, and a peace of mind that I had nothing to prove to anyone.
You only need to look at my word count for Sunday 9th November to see which side won the battle.
But it wasn't easy. Even though I got up two hours earlier than I usually do, I only managed to knock out 2500 words in that time. The remaining 1600 I wrote on Sunday were done in Gatwick Airport. I have no idea why, but I've always been able to write well in airports, maybe it's the immovable deadline of a flight or maybe it's because I so desperately want to switch off from the noise and chaos around me, but it works.
By Monday evening I had caught up and felt infinitely more positive about the challenge. I should be honest and say I'm not feeling the same way about my book, but I know (very!) deep down that there is a good story somehwere in what I'm writing and I am not allowed to give up on it until after 30th November, by which point I'm hoping I just won't want to.
The rest of the week was much, much easier. I was back at my desk in Amsterdam and with a long list of work tasks to complete, my writing became the refuge it so often is. I aimed to write 2000 words every day rather than the requisite 1667, and sometimes I did, other times I didn't. But every day I wrote.
What was interesting was that I sort of kept the same sporadic writing schedule that the busyness of Week One had caused. If I had a quick ten minutes before a conference call, I wrote. If I went to bed but was still quite awake, I took my laptop with me and wrote until my eyelids grew heavy (something I only ever do in November!) and on those days when I did wake before my alarm, I spent the time on my novel. This meant multiple writing sessions every day rather than a dedicated chunk of time as was what I used to finish my first two years of NaNoWriMo. I'm not sure if the stop-start writing sessions are helping me "enjoy" my novel, or feel like there's a natural flow to it - but they are helping me to write my novel, or at least the first 50,000 words.
So that was Week Two. I have a quiet weekend ahead and I'm hoping to both get ahead and to stay ahead as Week Three rolls around.
If you're wondering what it was that got me up and writing on Sunday when I really, really didn't want to. It was the thought of getting to 30th November and having the biggest, most haunting "What if?" hanging over my head. I am much more comfortable regretting the things I did do than regretting those I didn't.
That and the promise I made to myself that if I wrote for two hours solid, I could have a slice of cake from Pret as soon as I got to Gatwick airport. So that's another piece of advice for you as you also go in to Week Three: If in doubt, resort to self-bribery!
How was your Week Two?
Frances M. Thompson
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