So it turns out that writing a novel is more difficult than I suspected. I had an inkling it would be difficult, but in a “for other people” sort of way. Let’s face it, there are some terrible novels out there. Surely writing a mediocre one should be achievable for anyone with time, a laptop and a basic grasp of the English language?
Not so much, as it turns out.
I had anticipated a bad first draft. Y’know, just churn it out and edit it later. I hadn’t realised just how excruciating that would be. Around NaNoWriMo, there’s always a bit of chat about turning off the “Internal Editor – that wee voice that tells you it’s not good enough”. In my case, it’s more of a Large Shouty Voice. Belonging to a horde of editors cringing and holding large red stop signs. I got just over a thousand words done before I decided that perhaps I don’t have a novel in me after all.
I was in the bath, contemplating my navel (literally) when I came up with a useful analogy – writing is like running. I wouldn’t expect a total beginner to step out the door and run a sub-50 10K. I’d tell them to start a running/walking combination, and slowly build up to running all the time. And when I’m running, I’m at my best when I’m consistent. Sure, I can run a half marathon without much significant training, but it’s slow, uncomfortable and a world away from my best. However, even during the worst run, my experience tells me to keep going and thing will improve. So it’s all about practice. And believing you can do it. Not just paying lip service to “you can do this”, but never doubting that you can do it in the first place.
Which is very interesting and all, but not exactly of much practical help. Until I came up with the stop watch idea. What I’ve been doing today is sitting myself down at the laptop, finding some blog posts and articles to keep me amused and then setting my watch and writing for ten minutes. Then I stop, read something, and then do it again. It’s the writing equivalent of “Run 1 minute/Walk 1 minute”. And it seems to be working. At the very least, there are words on the page.