Achieving December, (or at least May)

I haven’t written a post in a while. A month ago today I published In Pursuit of Perfection, the post I consider to be my first, (there was one before it but then it was almost two months later that I actually started trying to stick to a regular schedule). In that post I said I was going to aim for publishing something here twice a week and, in general, I’ve been pretty good with that. Exams have got in the way over the past week or so though, (my time as an undergrad is now done!). I’ll remedy this pretty quickly, once I hit publish on this very post in fact. What I am finding harder is starting work again on my novel.

As a bit of background, I first came up with the concept for this novel, (with a working title of Achieving December), well over a year ago. It might even be two now. For about six months the ideas existed only in my head, not a strategy I would recommend as I assume I thought of some good things in that time that have now drifted out of my memory, I just can’t remember. After a while I adopted a strategy I now stick to, taking a note on my phone any time a thought strikes me, even if I think it might be completely ridiculous. Then, last semester, in the autumn of 2015, I took a YA creative writing module at Uni and decided that I’d write the opening couple of scenes as my submission. I think I might write something separate about that experience at another time, needless to say Achieving December underwent a dramatic transformation in that time. The result however, was that by early January I had 4000 words and two scenes. I admit, this is a very small percentage of a novel but I was proud.

I certainly hadn’t finished there though. By mid January I’d probably doubled that word count and as in the semester I have just finished I was taking a creative writing module called the Independant Project, in which I could write almost anything I wanted, I started being able to dedicate what I’d call Uni-time to the novel without feeling too guilty. The work, after all, would be going towards my final submission. This is where a brief description of Achieving December might prove handy. Set in an alternate present, the world of Joe, my protagonist, is largely the same as one any 16 year old boy from the UK would recognise. His life revolves around family, girls and school. There is one, fairly notable, difference; everyone has the ability to find out the exact date of their death. Joe’s so happens to be the 30th of November. The novel begins on New Years Day.

The most pertinent aspect of all this to this specific posts however, is the structure. Each chapter will be a month, starting with January. I feel it is important to have goals in your writing to serve as a form of motivation. Sometimes, however much I love to write, it can feel a chore and setting myself definite targets helps me push through the sticky patches. It helps that I am highly competitive, particularly with myself. My specific goal for Achieving December was to write a chapter a month, keeping up with the chronology of the story. This way, if I do stick to the plan, I will finish my first draft at the end of November, coinciding with NaNoWriMo, which, if you don’t know what it is, you should go and look up immediately, (at least immediately after you’ve finished reading this of course). The coursework and exam period has thrown a right spanner in the works however.

I always expected that my writing would have to take a back seat over the last few months, it couldn’t be any other way, but it means I’m now at least a month behind my own schedule. Since the end of March, I’ve written about half a scene, adding maybe 1000 words. I certainly want to finish the novel, and I’m still aiming to hit my November deadline, but picking it back up again is hard. In February and March I felt I had real momentum, I was averaging 2500 words a week, not massive amounts, but a figure I was pleased with given the demands if Uni and my job. Now though, the thought of switching apps to finish that half written scene seems rather daunting. This post is probably only as long as it is because I’m putting off working on other things and I keep coming up with excuses in my mind for why I shouldn’t start now, why I should begin next week, next month maybe.

In this instance, I feel I need to ignore my brain and follow my typing fingers. I’m sure that what I produce in the first few days or weeks won’t feel up to scratch, but that’s okay. The longer I take to begin, the harder it will be, and I’m actually quite proud of what I’ve produced so far so don’t want to let it drift away. A big part of the reason for me writing this post is as motivation. It might only get read three times, (thanks for the I-don’t-know-how-manyth-time loving and very patient girlfriend), but I’ve put it out there now, I’ve told the world I’m going to start work again, so I will.

In fact, I think I might even have an idea now. I should probably go and write it down.

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