Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Ten reasons I failed at Nanowrimo this year…

Disappointingly, I didn’t finish my November novel this year. Never mind, I wrote about a third of it and got nine chapters done, so it’ll run for two years as a serial in TQF before I have to decide what happens next! Why did I fail? Let’s investigate. I write this mainly for my own reference next year, so I don’t make the same mistakes again.

1. I just didn’t spend long enough working on it. That’s always the main reason. Everything else is just detail. Was it really wise to buy Grand Theft Auto V in the middle of the month? Could I not have gone a month without watching Two and a Half Men or The Big Bang Theory? Did I need to read sixteen books and graphic novels?

2. My structure was too bitty. My novel was to be made up of thirty self-contained episodes, one to be written a day. Making them so self-contained will be great for when they run in the magazine, but it meant each chapter needed much more thought than my daft novels usually do.

3. I tried writing a novel in the present tense. For the first time. I was trying to create a sense of excitement and immediacy (inspired in part by reading Lavie Tidhar’s The Violent Century). But I kept forgetting and slipped into the past tense over and over, and had to go back through what I’d just written to change the tense.

4. The writing never became routine. All month I was trying to carve out space for writing my new novel instead of it being set aside from the beginning. I never developed any good habits. In the run-up to the 2013 event I had written at least 250 words a day for the previous 73 days, and it wasn’t hard to ramp that up a bit for November.

5. I didn’t do enough in October to clear my (hobby) desk. I didn’t get TQF49 finished till November, and out of some daft sense of duty I took on issue thirteen of the perpetually accident-prone BFS Journal instead of putting my own project first. I’m going to be a bit more selfish about my time in 2015.

6. I let my writing muscles go cold. After the first week, I decided to work extremely hard on everything else I do so that I could take the last week off to write my novel, but that meant that by the time I reached the last week I was worn out from working so hard and hadn’t done any writing of any kind, not even reviews or blog posts, for weeks.

7. I faffed about too much deciding where to write and what to write on. I love writing in Daedalus Touch on my iPad, but my series one iPad doesn’t get many updates any more and the app is unreliable. I got into a terrible mess when it synced to Dropbox and added duplicate versions of my chapters. Next year it’s Scrivener all the way, except when I’m out and about. If I feel like a change I can always use Word to edit the Scrivener files.

8. My idea was almost too good (by my standards). I liked it so much that I didn’t want to spoil it, and spent ages thinking about how to fulfill its potential instead of just getting on with it and writing the usual gubbins.

9. I’ve let my typing get rusty and lazy. I need to find my copy of Mavis Beacon, or buy a new one, because I’ve developed some bad habits. One of my little fingers isn’t pulling its weight.

10. My sleeping patterns were all wrong. At the moment I get up early and go to bed early, but a couple of lonely hours last thing at night are better for writing than a couple of hours in the morning with the children.

But never mind! I’ll do better next year. Because I’ll read this blog post. (Hi Stephen of 2015! Don’t make the mistakes I did. Regards, Stephen of 2014. xoxo)

If you finished your own novel last month, well done! If you didn't, don't be downhearted. Buy a new notebook and leave it on your desk. Won't be long before you start thinking of new ideas to put in it.

Wednesday is occasionally list day on the blog, and this is list #18.

1 comment:

  1. To quote Peter Cook: "I have learned from all my mistakes and can repeat them exactly."