The Physiological impact of Entering a Writing Contest (#NaNoWriMo)

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 3rd Dec 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/vr40fhvd/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

One month to write a novel, surely an impossible challenge? That is what I thought before starting out on this month long writing task, yet as I get to the end, both in terms of time, the number of words written, and the natural end of the story which is now reaching a climax I look at the impact of being in the contest..

The First Day

I started on the first day with 1,284 words, this was short of the suggested 1,667 words that needed to be written each and every one of the 30 days, so at the end of that day I felt I was in trouble and as a consequence did push myself harder the next day. I still remained behind the expected pace, which can lead to stress, one of the worst things humans can suffer. Yet hearing how others experienced the ride turned out to be vital to my success, I guess I wanted to prove that I could achieve this success.

The elements of this story were added here at the date/time documented and have remained in place other than as necessary for meeting the editor's cut - the comments may seem a little disjointed which is because they document particular steps and feelings at the time.

Nano and the Facebook Friends

Former Wikinut writer Phyl Campbell created a group on Facebook, she invited myself and 26 other people to become members and told everyone:

    "This is the online group of NANO celebration and encouragement. If I have added you in error, and you can't remove yourself, please let me know immediately and I will remove you. If you wish to be added to the group, just ask. I have (not that I'm complaining) too many friends that write, and tagging them all in each post is not conducive to my getting off FB between sprints. wink emoticon I hope everyone in this group can make great connections to other writers and that this group will help people make online connections that will keep them motivated and happy to write!"

My reply was both immediate and emphatic:

    Thank you Phyl for creating this group and adding me to it.

    I have made great progress on my story, adding 2894 words so far. it was only in the last couple of weeks that I decided to enter this contest, I had not done so in the past because I consider myself more a non-fiction writer, but it was through the course of a dream that I came up with the idea for this story.

    I still only have a working title for the story, but I am sure that will change over time.

It was the 2nd of November and I was soon making friends with others, including Anna Hayward, from St Neots in the UK who has been a bit disappointed by the NaNo forums - too many people and few opportunities to get to know one another, Erin Hubbard Foster, from Arkansas who was "always happy to offer cheer-leading to all who are participating".

It is true, the NaNoWriMo events are not exactly down the road and I don't wish to travel to the next city at a time that is inconvenient to me, it takes away precious writing time. Phyl Campbell's response "NANO is definitely a learning experience. The story I am writing now is not one that was even on my radar a week ago. But that's the fun of NANO!" speaks volumes, I have learnt a great deal I also know that having a deadline focuses the mind and helps you perform. The other aspect here is that friendships are also made by those facing a similar challenge. There are also a few rebels on board who are using the event to enhance existing work, but that is fine.

The Next phase of the Story

Early on one day I announced "I am going to think about the next phase of my story, so I am off to paint a wall and think about that at the same time" but later that same morning said

    Wow! I got energised this morning hammering out 3150 words so far.

This was the most I had written in a single day in the contest thus far, but did go on to achieve just under 5,000 words on two other days. Mike McCurley added a thought "Every single day gives you the chance to catch back up, surpass your expectations, and blow this thing right out of the water. You can do it. There are legions cheering you". I found that certainly encouraging, in this instance painting that wall for 30 to 45 minutes certainly provided great inspiration. But another aspect is that if you get ahead of your target early it is easier to stay ahead.

Then there are the technical issues:

    Anna Hayward - And now my space bar has decided to only operate occasionally.
    Peter Giblett - Evernote is very slow on my phone, because the note is getting so large. It meant I couldn't use the time while waiting at the doctor's office to write.

and suggestions:

    Lisa Matthews Collins - Here is a tip to keep all those secondary characters in line. Start a Pinterest board.

I am not sure I would go to anything as public as a Pinterest board. A long while ago I read a suggestion that you have a notebook page for each person and on it you include public and private information about their character.

I have had a slow morning (on the 4th at 11am) only achieving 650 words so far. I knew this could happen from the outset, part of the problem is that words are not flowing there are some technical elements to the story that require research - I was not sure whether to put five asterisks, "*****", into the document and do the research later or research things now and suffer the slower word count, I opted for the latter course because I felt that if I didn't perform the research now it could impact the future direction of the story.

Erin Hubbard Foster suggested "When I find I need to do research before I can go on, I limit myself on time. Depending on how extensive your search needs to be, an hour of research and then back to writing. (Or half an hour or even two hours if you need that much information) If I don't limit myself, I would only research and never write." How true.

My response was that time limits are a good idea - it is all too easy to spend daysd researching a topic, but often the answer can be found in minutes. Excellent suggestion. With the research complete my word count went back up.

Ahead of the Count

Once I had gotten ahead of the target daily count it was possible to stay ahead, in fact on some days the words just flew onto the page. One day I wrote on Facebook:

    I am surprised that I have been invigorated to action since NaNo began, every time I sit down to write I just keep going, it's like I am sprinting the marathon and not stopping at the finish line.

From this point on I stayed ahead of the daily count and by the 19th of November had completed the target 50,000 words, but the story still had to be completed, at this point I modified my target to 60,000 words, then later to complete the story by November 30th.

A message from friend Scott Biddulph, the founder of Two Drops of Ink, "I fell out at 17,000 some odd words. I had so many deadlines for the press, and for college finals, that it became overwhelming." If you have work or other commitments then this can be a very tough challenge to keep up with and people writing while facing such a challenge are very brave indeed.

The Faux Pas

I wanted to share a few of the faux pas I have encountered along the way.

  • Doubling up words, so many can can's, will will's, the the's
  • Doubling word pairs he said he said or she did she did
  • Typing so fast that I missed letters out of words, for example each becoming eah (these are easy to spot when a red squiggly line appears underneath not so easy to see when it becomes a valid word, such as north becoming not).
  • A complete inability to spell a basic word, always eth, eht or teh, sometimes ghr, tge, yhe, and even once 5he, but never the.
  • Failure to find a sane rational word to use.
  • Using descriptors and modifiers both before and after the object of the sentence.

It seems to me that December becomes "Cleaning up the Mess Month", then of course it will make January "Find an Agent or Publisher Month".

The End in Sight?

I surpassed 50,000 words on November 19th, 60K 2 days later, then announced:

    November 26th at just after 12:30 - There it is Ladies and Gentlemen, the first draft is finished, 75,504 words so far.

    WOW! PIZAZZ! YIPPEE, YIPPEE DO DA!

    I am glad to have brought the story to a natural conclusion and to have done so at about 75,000 words - I just dropped it into Microsoft Word and inserted page breaks in all the relevant places and it amounts to a total of 213 pages
    I wish everyone well as they continue to work on their submissions and hope everyone reaches their personal target. For me the editing begins tomorrow.

A weight lifted at that very moment - I had been under severe pressure to get the story finished - admittedly it was pressure of my own making, but pressure nonetheless. I spent the rest of that afternoon relaxing and letting all the stress wash away.

Editing has begun and has been under-way every day since, although I am only allocating 1 hour per day to it as I pick up other work that has been outstanding.

Picture Credits

  • 1st of the month - Peter Giblett
  • Facebook Friends by Phyl Campbell
  • Spinning the words by Jonathon Ledger
  • Ahead of the Count - Anonymous
  • Error Button - from Microsoft
  • The end is in sight by Peter Giblett (constructed using Pablo)

Opther Posts by Peter Giblett

Peter Giblett regularly publishes here on Wikinut and contributes a semi-regular column on 2 Drops of Ink, a site dedicated to the improvement of writing, grammar, and prose and his own blog called GobbledeGoox. Recent works on Wikinut include:

Wikinut is great a place to share some of your own personal wisdom by adding a comment or becoming a writer, join Wikinut and write.

Tags

Encouragement, First Day, Nanowrimo, Physiological Impact, Suggestions, Technical Issues, Tips, Writing Contest

Meet the author

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
Author of "Is your Business Ready? For the Social Media Revolution"

Social media consultant, with C-Level background.

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Comments

author avatar Retired
3rd Dec 2015 (#)

The only thing to say is - well done!

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
3rd Dec 2015 (#)

Thank you John

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
3rd Dec 2015 (#)

Doing what you did can be likened to running a marathon - an exercise in stupendous courage!

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
3rd Dec 2015 (#)

Thank you Steve, I certainly felt that tired afterwards.

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author avatar Ptrikha
4th Dec 2015 (#)

A great and hectic journey for you and a simply superb effort that you made. Kudos and keep it up!

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
4th Dec 2015 (#)

Thank you.

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author avatar Retired
4th Dec 2015 (#)

This is a good advice for somebody who wants to participate in a contests, I never tried it. A word count is never a problem, it is an idea. I write fiction and poetry for fun only and the last story I done was in the Wattpad, for a friend. I finished it in 3 day and it contains 13 000 words. Later I polish it a bit, but I can say it is quite possible to make a nice novel if you have a will to finish it.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
4th Dec 2015 (#)

The will to get it done is the most important thing. I have now edited about 45% of it and am at 77,000 words but also know that I have a section of about 300 to 500 words that needs removing and a similar sized section to add, when I come to those pages.

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author avatar Carol Roach
5th Dec 2015 (#)

I have been invited to take up the challenge many times over the years but I never did. I wrote and published to books of my own. And I lost two books in progress, one to a computer crash and the other one was because I did not have a chance to get it off of Bubblews before it closed down. I am totally disappointed and saddened by the fact that these works are gone. There is no way I could rewrite what I had written I can't remember half of it.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
5th Dec 2015 (#)

Carol, to my mind Bubblews should have given 3 months notice so that people could remove things published there. Sometimes starting over on something allows it to come out better.

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author avatar pohtiongho
6th Dec 2015 (#)

Peter: I wouldn't take up this sort of games. For others, it may seem acceptable. But for me, the money won may not be enough to buy the medicines I shall need after this race !!!

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
7th Dec 2015 (#)

Dear Pohtiongho, there is no money won. The idea of the challenge is to get yourself to focus on writing a piece from end to end.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
6th Dec 2015 (#)

I have always wanted to write a screen play, not a novel as such, just a screen play. Lately though I have had most of my focus on my music and subliminal healing tapes that I have not had time to write.

I congratulate you on your fine work Peter.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
7th Dec 2015 (#)

Mark, I have heard of other writers using the time to write a screenplay, there is no reason why the contest couldn't be used that way. The point is to inspire completion of the task.

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author avatar SaigonDeManila
8th Dec 2015 (#)

I already heard cheers...so its natural to pop a champagne!๐Ÿธ And Hat tip to you๐ŸŽฉ
Looking forward to read the synopsis ๐Ÿ“„and possible pdf copy for review.๐Ÿ“

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
9th Dec 2015 (#)

Thank you for your beautiful comment Saigon.

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author avatar vellur
11th Dec 2015 (#)

Congratulations, a fantastic achievement. Wishing you all success in publishing your book.

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author avatar vellur
11th Dec 2015 (#)

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
15th Dec 2015 (#)

Inspiring story, thanks Peter.

Not for the faint of heart but a challenge not to be missed if the opportunity presents itself and one is willing to bite.

As for me I have not tried to write fiction/novel but maybe when I test the waters it could turn out to be my cup of tea! siva

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
15th Dec 2015 (#)

thank you Siva.

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author avatar Sherri Granato
22nd Dec 2015 (#)

It is certainly a fun challenge. The editing part is the real killer where my story is concerned.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
22nd Dec 2015 (#)

Sherri, Editing can be tough. I am now on page 216 out of 225, 9 pages from the end but editing this part has been slowed considerably because I have had to ensure it is linked to earlier references I have made, but the word count is going up.

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author avatar SaigonDeManila
22nd Dec 2015 (#)

I always believe self proof reading is the waterloo of an author. It takes some time incubation and repeated reviews to see own's errors. Here in wikinut without the aid of editing even after publication my work are editor's headache and I am man embarassed seeing my work with such many typo and grammatical inconsistency to be pass as notable work. Am impressed with you Peter for having such great skills to polished your own magnum opus!

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
22nd Dec 2015 (#)

Saigon, writing and editing go hand in hand and as we know even after editing some mistakes survive.

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