Here we are, 1/12 of the way into the New Year Novel Duel! January has been and gone, we’ve had uncharacteristic snowfalls of epic proportions, and some rather more typical dreary greyness. Both me and Rob shall be posting an update at the end of each month, and for the January update it’s me to go first.

For me, it’s been a difficult month of writing.

Current word count: 6012.

Current mood: Excited! Looking forward to putting a difficult first month behind me, and grabbing this novel (and 2010 in general) by the balls.

January low point: The middle of the month. There were two days when I did… nothing. No writing at all, and nothing else of any merit whatsoever. I was feeling really down, not just about StairJumpers and the Duel but about lots of things.

January high point: The past few days. I’ve been working primarily on one major early scene, where Sam meets the titular ‘StairJumpers’. My antagonist is fleshing-out in my head too, and becoming real on the page. At least, he seems to be.

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I feel like I haven’t got off to a very good start. I wrote very little in the first week, and then absolutely nothing for a while. Although I was thinking about the novel a lot, jotting down notes and brainstorming ideas, I wasn’t writing. This is an affliction that has always cursed me, not just with writing but with everything I do – thinking and planning far too much, instead of actually doing.

There are several factors to my slow start, I think. One of the reasons is the fact that I haven’t written any fiction for so long before starting the Duel. Going straight from a long dry patch into writing something of novel length and scope, when I’ve never even written anything of this length before (the longest piece I’ve ever done being 50,000 words) is very daunting, especially as I only have a year to complete it. There were times, especially in the second week of January, when I just felt completely overwhelmed by the task ahead of me.

Secondly, I think I found it rather difficult to return to ‘normal life’ after the Christmas break, where (even though I was still working) the normal rules of day-to-day life cease, in many ways, for a few weeks. Getting back to normality, with other things as well as my writing, was hard, and led to a lack of motivation that, again, I seem cursed with, even for things that I like to do.

So, 6012 words in the first month. If I keep up that pace I’ll be able to write 72,000, which is probably about right, if rather long actually for a children’s novel. However, my novel seems to be pacing between the areas of middle-grade children’s story and young adult, so we’ll see where things go. Plus, I’d like time to edit of course, and need to anticipate any major changes or re-writes that I might have (or want) to make, which may drastically put my word count back.

What’s interesting is that my January word count in comparison to Rob’s is tiny. I’m not going to tell you how many words he has written, but suffice to say it lives up to his wordy standards! However, Rob’s novel will be longer than mine, that’s just the way it is, to the both the types of stories that they both are, and our very different styles as writers. That is partly what makes this Duel so interesting.

Still, all that said I don’t think I have written enough this first month. No where near. I certainly did not write every day, which a writer always should. I would blame my job for this, but it would be a poor excuse so I’m not going to. While it does mean around 35 hours less time per week I have to write than Rob does, still I have not made use of the free time that I have had. Besides, plenty of people write novels and hold down full time jobs, often with jobs a lot more demanding than mine.

So, no excuses now. The latter third of the month has been excellent. I have written every day of the last week, and I am feeling motivated and really excited again, like I was just before the Duel started.

1 month down, 11 to go! Hope you are all enjoying following along with our Writing Duel, and look out for Rob’s first month update tomorrow!


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