NaNoWriMo’s done something to me. After all the hype and productivity and cameraderie, I feel as though I’m floating around not really sure what to do with myself. My focus this month was going to be on sending out articles and queries (which I have been doing) while sitting on my completed novel until the new year, when I can look at it with a fresh mind. Except something’s been niggling at me and I’ve not felt any kind of satisfaction with my output. Not least because I feel like it’s a slow process, but because I miss the pressure of NaNoWriMo and the buzz that comes with it. I was chatting to someone today who is actively still using Word Sprints, which I think is a wonderful idea. For something which I found so productive in November, I’m surprised I didn’t think of this before. Well, I was aiming for finishing my second novel by the end of this year (providing the world doesn’t end on Friday, of course), but I didn’t put any challenges in place for myself. I had targets; realistic targets, for the non-fiction side of my work. Yet the targets weren’t stretching me enough. So last night, I sat for two hours (yes, really) and drew up a spreadsheet with a chart to measure my word count, so I have something I can use to monitor my progress and push myself. I’ve only got basic knowledge of formulas in spreadsheets, so it’s nowhere near as great as the NaNo word counter, but it will do. Additionally, after speaking about word sprints, I decided to go with my method of getting those words out, which involves sprinting for 5 mins, then having a break, then 10 mins, then break, then 15 mins, then break, and so on. I think the longest I managed in November was 30 minutes when an acquaintance bullied me into getting another 1k out in those 30 minutes as I was so close to the finish line. It was epic.
So, the end result is that I have a word counter, and a new focus. I feel great now, I don’t feel like I’m floating around like a ghost trying lots of different types of food, only to realise that I can’t taste anything because I’m a ghost. Sorry, that was a terrible metaphor, but I am pretty tired. I managed 2k of my novel today in the space of an hour, which is more than I’ve achieved all month.
Time is of the essence, and studying markets and sending out query letters is something which requires a lot of attention, which I don’t have the opportunity for during the day due to the narrow time slots I get between my daughter needing my attention. Perhaps I’ll be better off concentrating on getting those words on paper while she sleeps, and leaving the tasks which require greater concentration for the evening.
This is what it’s all about, juggling your life, juggling your time. If you can take control of the tools you have and use them to the best of your ability, if you can push yourself and realise that your only limit is where YOU draw the line, then it is entirely possible to get where you need to be.
Be organised, be focused, and persevere.