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NaNoWriMo – Wk 1

OK, one week in and all’s well. The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that the header image to this post contains a title and genre. Yep, I’m working on the draft of a suspense/thriller called ‘The Way of Sand and Water’. That’s all you’re getting for now. I couldn’t tell you what it’s about even if I wanted to. Keep reading and you’ll see why.

Anyway, I’m on target with the word count and I’ve written every day this week. I had a slight blip on Thursday when I didn’t reach my target daily target but I did a bit more on Friday and caught up again.

I can’t say I’ve got into any sort of routine. I have the luxury of time which allows me to be flexible with when I write. That said, I do find myself wanting to get the NaNo words done before I concentrate on anything else.

I’m also being flexible about where I write. For three days out of seven I’ve used the laptop at my desk and put the words straight into my Ulysses app. On the other days I’ve used my Alphasmart Neo.

For those of you that don’t know the Alphasmart is a retro word processor dating back to the early 2000s. It was developed primarily as a device to teach school kids how to type.

It can’t connect to the internet and its small LCD screen makes any reviewing or editing difficult. So why use it?

Before starting this challenge I’m not sure I could have given a convincing answer to that question. But here’s what I’m loving about it after putting it to use this week.

  • It switches on instantly
  • The full sized keyboard is a pleasure to use
  • The small screen forces me to focus only on what I’m typing
  • The Neo does nothing else except record words – There are zero distractions
  • It can give me a word count
  • When I’m done I just plug the USB lead into my MacBook, press the send button and then watch all my words being automagically re-typed into a fresh text document ready for transfer to Ulysses

It’s been an eye-opening experience for me, because for the first time ever I’ve started writing sessions with absolutely no idea about what I was going to write or where I was trying to go. To my delight I’ve discovered that once I start the dialogue and direction seem to appear as if by magic. Two of my sessions in particular have finished with my story in a place that’s come as a complete surprise to me.

Now I make no pretence that what I’ve written flows along in perfect prose, far from it. I know already that the text contains no end of errors, contradictions and omissions. And that’s OK, because here’s what the NaNoWriMo gurus say:

Your job now is not to create a manuscript that a publisher will want to sell at lemonade stands all over the country. That comes later, once you’ve done a ton of revision and rethinking. For now, your task is to create a first draft. Or in other words, to make a glorious, beautiful, breathtaking mess.

Well I’m not sure it’s glorious, beautiful or breathtaking, but it definately a mess, and even making a mess ain’t easy, but it is fun, at least so far. There are 23 days of writing still ahead of me yet, let’s hope the fun continues.

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