28 Oct - 3 Nov: Excuse me, do you have the time? Or the speed?
Yes, I too have fallen victim to the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge. Blogs far and wide will spout news of the event, so I will save my words for my novel.
Let me explain.
I initially intended to write a light psychological thriller based on an outline from some time ago. Exciting stuff.
But then yesterday, I finished a short story that had been unfinished for too long. All it needed was an ending, and so I ended it. I knew what was going to happen, most of it was dialogue, and besides the catch-up reading and some minor tweaking, I wrote freely. A thousand words. That was all. I looked at my watch and was astounded to learn it had taken me two hours to reach The End.
1000 words in 2 hours? Seriously? It took that long?
500 words an hour. That's probably right now I think about it.
Okay, so my 50,000 word novel requires 100 hours.
Divided by 30 days. That's 3 hours 20 minutes per day, at least, to write the required 1666 words.
Now I'm not a terrible typist. Not great, but not terrible. And just for kicks, I took a typing speed test and found that I type at about 50 words a minute (with 99 per cent accuracy thanks to my pesky inner critic). So, theoretically, I could type my required 1666 words a day in about 33 minutes. Wouldn't that be awesome?
Typing speed: 3000 words an hour. Writing speed: 500 words an hour. Quite a difference.
And so I realised that my chance of writing in 30 days 50,000 words based on my psych thriller outline was slim at best. This story requires more thinking than writing than typing. I was kidding myself.
So now, I have decided to write a 'creative memoir.' (Just 'memoir' makes me sound like I think my life is interesting enough to write about - this remains unproven.)
I am writing about a roadtrip through Namibia with my sister: hippos threatening to tip our canoe in a storm; the lion three feet away from us; the sibling tiffs; all good stuff. Okay, so we were in a car when we came across the lion, but still....
My theory is that memory will get me through - the facts, the details, the feelings. I don't have to imagine a journey, because it has happened. I don't have to dream up characters, because I have met them. I have dot points about the trip's twists and turns as mini-cliffhangers and a map (literally) to guide me. Unfortunately, my photos and travel journals are a world away (except for the lion photo), but a part of my brain is alive with images of Africa, and I want to know if I can draw those images in words.
So that's my plan. Is a memoir a novel? Not according to NaNoWriMo.org's genre selection. Am I cheating myself of the creative process? I suspect I will be incorporating a healthy dose of exaggeration into my story, so fiction or not, count me in.
For those embarking on the journey, may you have the time of your life, and may the speed be with you. Good luck.
Exercise 87. Check or do your story outline for NaNoWriMo. Set your schedule. On 1 Nov, write like a cheetah runs.
Exercise 88. Get some fresh air. Go for a walk. Pull your shoulders back. Raise your head high.