I’ve taken part in NaNoWriMo twice so far. 1,667 words a day when you haven’t a clue what you’re writing about is tough. The first time I completed the challenge (yay me!) but the second time round I got to 3 days and a manageable 7,000 words away from the end and… went out all weekend, got a hangover and didn’t bother finishing. Not my finest hour. But I still wrote 40-50,000 words in just a few weeks both times. All of the highest quality, of course.
Anyway. What it showed me was how quickly steps add up, and how suddenly big projects start to look achievable. So, I wondered, where could this approach combined with the wisdom of MC Hammer (break it down!) get us?
Imagine you’re going to take one day off writing a week to check and amend your story map/plan and break down what you’re going to write for the next week. This means that every day you can sit down and just write with minimal procrastination and angst. You wake every morning 45 minutes earlier, stumble to a desk and write 500 words. Or tuck your children into bed and walk immediately to your desk and start. On the train to work you spend 5 minutes thinking about what you’re going to write tomorrow and hearing conversations your characters might have, and every day you can see the words stacking up in front of you.
500 words is completely achievable, even with a job – if you miss one day, just catch up on another.
> After one week you’ve written 3,000 words. This doesn’t sound like much.
> But after 4 weeks you’ve written 12,000 words. Much better, more usable words than if you hadn’t taken one day a week off to check your progress.
> In 3 months you’ve written 49,000.
> That’s a whole novel in 6 months. From writing 500 tiny little words a day.
Philip Pullman famously writes 3 pages every day by hand, a total of around 1,100 words. He’s done this every day for years. 1,100 isn’t a whole day of writing and it isn’t an inconceivable amount. In fact, it’s just one step every day. How many words or how much time per day works for you? How many days a week? If you commit to it, where will you be in 6 months? In 2 years? 10 years?
The cumulative effect of taking small actions is huge, and that one little habit is something very powerful that makes everything suddenly look possible.
The Get Writing! online bootcamp is designed to help you develop your confidence and get you hooked back on writing. Once you’re back in the habit you’ll start to want to write more and that novel in 6 months starts to look possible. One previous bootcamper says,
‘It really reignited my interest in writing. The inspiration notebook I started then is almost full and i feel ill if I don’t write something every day…Anyone that is undecided, DO IT. No regrets.’