No way out but through, indeed

I haven’t made significant headway on my current novel-in-progress since I pushed out my 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo, last November. “No significant headway” isn’t quite the same as “no headway at all” — I’ve written about a thousand more words, and polished the whole thing a bit in installments as sections went to my writers group — but there’s no arguing that the damn thing has been languishing, somewhere between a half and two-thirds finished, and I want and need to get it done.

NaNoWriMo has two “off-season” writing events, both called Camp NaNoWriMo. One’s in May, and one is this month of July. They’re a bit more low-key and self-directed. Rather than aiming for a hard target of 50,000 words, participants are encouraged to set and meet a goal they choose themselves, with a floor of 10,000 words. I signed up for the May Camp NaNoWriMo, with a goal of 25,000 words, which is the rough neighbourhood of what I expect it will take me to finish the novel. But the stars were, shall we say, not right. I hit my target wordcount for the first couple of days, then got caught up in work and family and just feeling exhausted all the time, lost momentum and that was that.

So this month, I decided to make another Big Push to finish my novel.

I’m not doing it by signing up for Camp NaNoWriMo. I don’t really want to make this into a big, join-an-online-community-rah-rah thing. I don’t, contrary to my usual impulses, want to gamify it. I just want to write.


There’s another writing challenge — as far as I can tell, entirely unrelated to NaNoWriMo — taking place on Twitter right now, called the #JulyWritingChallenge. My friend Heather Jackson is participating and moving one of her own projects forward, with a target of 500 words a day (I can’t quite tell if that’s a general goal for the challenge, or just the one Heather has set for herself — either way, it’s awesome and she can count me as part of her cheering section!)

I’m not doing the #JulyWritingChallenge either.

I’m just coming off the Canada Day holiday weekend. I spent it at home with my family, which was great, but didn’t leave me much time or space to write. My kids are out of school for the summer, and so our whole daily schedule has switched up. I’ll be taking time off this summer, but except for my trip to DetCon (which itself will not exactly be full of quiet and introspection) it’s mostly to be at home with the kids and give my wonderful partner, their mother Sarah, much-deserved breaks from being on solo parent duty all day long.

What I’m saying is that I need to be realistic, this month, about how I commit my time. And signing up for a challenge, while good for accountability, will also add a layer of stress and time-management-pressure that I just don’t think is going to help.

This is what I’m going to do instead: I am going to try to write. Every day. Whether that’s on my lunch break at work, or after the kids going to bed, or in one of the hours for myself I carve out in between. I’m just going to try to write.

If I manage an average of 870 or so words every day, I’ll even manage to hit that 25,000-word target. That might be too ambitious, but it’s something to shoot for. It’s not a question of how quickly I write, mind you — for me, the writing itself is not the challenging part. It’s making the time to write in the first place.

So I’m going to focus on making time. On writing when I can. On writing in short, sharp bursts when I only have 15 minutes. On writing more, for longer, when I have the time to spare. I’m just going to try. To write. Every day.

And the worst possible outcome is that I’ll be closer to the finish line than I am now. I believe that’s what they call a can’t-lose proposition.

I’ll post an update on my progress soon. Until then, as best and as often as I can, I #amwriting.

Coming up next: Posts on Chapter 2 of Ulysses and my 15 seconds of Twitter fame, both of which I promised before, and both of which were casualties of the same time management snarl that’s been impeding my non-blog writing too. I’ll, um, try to make them worth the wait?


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