NaNoWriMo and 50k5days (by Gerald Hornsby)

I love a challenge, me. When I first heard about NaNoWriMo, back in 2003, it sounded like a brilliant idea. How hard can it be, just writing 1,666 words a day for a month?

Answer: pretty hard. Until you’ve tried it, you don’t know that actually producing a work of fiction of 50,000 words (or more) is a tough ask. If everyone has a book in them, not everyone can write the thing (and, indeed, not everyone *should* write it, but that’s another story).

I ‘won’ in 2003, my first year, and also in 2004 and 2005. For NaNo ’06 I didn’t plan, and thought I could ‘wing’ it, writing by the seat of my pants (becoming what is described as a ‘pantser’ for the first time). I failed. I didn’t complete the task. Which was a lesson in itself, and now I won’t attempt NaNoWriMo without a fairly detailed plan.

2007 was a success, but in 2008 I moved house bang in the middle of November. I didn’t even try NaNo that year. In 2009 I was back, and have succeeded each year since then.

After several years of successful NaNo-ing, I was looking for something a bit different for other parts of the year and, with a writing friend, #100kwords100days was born. That’s for January and July. A thousand words a day for a hundred days. How hard can it be? But that still wasn’t enough.

Last year (2013), a new challenge appeared on the horizon. #50k5days. And I was hooked. Ten thousand words a day, for only five days? I’m in! How hard can it be? (Are you beginning to see a pattern here?)

Practicalities – I can type quite fast. If I have a good, detailed plan, I can write at a rate of around 1,000 to 2,000 words an hour. So, on average, I should be able to complete this challenge with 7-8 hours work per day.

The actuality is, unfortunately, slightly different. There are annoying things like eating, calls of nature, the call of the Internet, all of which interrupt the flow of writing. The dog needs to be walked, certain things need to be done to enable normal life to continue. Food has to be cooked, houses cleaned. But it’s do-able. Definitely do-able.

Last year, I baled out at 17k in 3 days, which is still a pretty good total, but I recognised that I was too far behind to be able to catch up. However, I’m signed up again for this year, and carefully scheduling the challenge for when I don’t have too much ‘real life’ going on. I have an idea for a story, and I have lots of that buzzing around in my head when I’m not engaged with NaNoWriMo 2014. So, at some point during the month, perhaps when I’ve pressed on and got ahead of schedule with my main NaNo novel, I’m going to start #50k5days. Some others in our little group have already successfully completed the challenge, and I do want to be one of those, and have another first draft of a novel to work on during the cold, dark, winter months.

Wish me luck! I’m going in!

Gerald Hornsby was born many years ago, in a sleepy suburban backwater, near to a big city in the middle of England. He went to grammar school, left at sixteen, became an apprentice, went to university, and then had an interesting career in industrial electronics and software. He retired in 2008.

After enjoying creative writing at school, his enthusiasm for writing was rejuvenated in 2003 with a failed entry to a BBC Script-Writing competition. However, the writing momentum was unstoppable. In 2014, he has been successful in 9 editions of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), has had a number of works of short fiction published, and is sitting on a seething pile of almost a million words of works-in-progress. 2014/2015 will see him publish at least three novel-length works, to sit alongside his collection of dark short fiction, published in 2010. He can be contacted via his website, where he sometimes blogs about nothing in particular.

He lives in North East Essex, UK, with his wife, a dog, two cats, and an unhealthy desire for Apple products. 


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