One of the things about NaNoWriMo (or Nano, as it is in my private head thoughts) is that it trains you to write in 1667-word bursts. There are good and bad aspects to this. Obviously, something with chapters less than 2000 words is going to be easy to read in small chunks. On the other hand, how are you ever going to build up something of depth and complexity within those restraints?

This year I’m averaging 1761 words a day, which means I’m up to 42,283 words, with around a week to go. Notwithstanding nights of heavy eyes and falling asleep on the couch before 7:30 in the evening, I reckon it has been easier this year than in any other year. (As to the quality of what I’m writing, time will tell.)

One temptation you have to fight in those years where you struggle is the turn to the back catalogue of half-written, abandoned projects. What if you just copy-pasted this whole chunk that kind of fits, and then changed whatever you needed to change. A global find-replace on character names, or (trickier) pronouns, and bang.

Who are you cheating when you cheat like this?

I will confess this year that what I’ve done is rewrite – from scratch – something I started before. I haven’t referred to it in any way, I’ve just written it again. And I think it’s better: less weighed down with detail, more fluent, more icebergy. It does contain whole scenes I’d written before but written in a different way, with some characters amalgamated and others chopped out. It feels better. And wherever it was going before (since it was only started and never finished), it’s going somewhere else now.

When I say icebergy: it’s that thing where you, the writer, can know things about a character/event, but you don’t have to put it all in. It leaves breathing room and means it’s under rather than over written. It’s the ghost of what you did before, and because it’s already a ghost, it is more elusive.

I know that 50,000 words won’t be the end. But then I think, what if it was? A flighty filthy fifty thousand words, which builds up and up and up and then ends, smack, like that. I don’t think it’ll be like that, but I think I’d quite like it if it was.

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