Coach.me – Writing 20,000 Words In 30 Days

Just over a month ago, I decided that if I didn’t make some sort of regular commitment to writing, I was never, EVER going to see any of the stories in my head make it down onto paper. Although I completed a novel last year, just before I gave birth to my daughter, since then I have hardly written a thing. I’ve thought a lot about writing, but it just hasn’t happened.

I tend to think that if I don’t have a block of several quiet hours to myself, or a day where I know I’m going to be undisturbed, then I really can’t sit down and write anything of any quality. The trouble is, how often does anyone get a day where they know they can sit and write and not be disturbed? And even when that day comes… do you ever just sit down and write??

I knew I needed a different approach. I wanted to make writing more of a ‘normal’ part of my day. After all, success is a daily habit, right?

A long time ago I had a play with an app called Lift, which encourages you to check in each day when you do something you want to do, e.g. drink 5 glasses of water. Since then it has evolved into something called Coach.me, and not only does it record all your daily check-ins for thousands of goals (or any other goal you care to think up), but it also has real, actual, human coaches that you can sign up with to make sure you’re doing your bit.

It costs $14.99 a week to hire a coach, and given our dreadful exchange rate at the moment, that is a fair amount of money each month if you’re not earning. But here’s the thing: a real life coach would cost you much more than that. And even a real life coach might get a little fed up if you wanted to talk to them EVERY SINGLE DAY.

So I thought, what the hell, accountability is the ONE thing that makes a huge difference for people who are trying to achieve goals, I’ll give it a go.

I signed up with a coach called Jen Anderson. There were several writing coaches, but I really liked the writing on her blog – she doesn’t subscribe to the pervasive style of brimming-with-regret fiction that I see so much of these days, and can’t bear to read. Hurrah!

We got going by setting a goal, and thinking about what I wanted to achieve. I already had a project in mind, which I’d made a very brief start on, so we settled on 15 minutes of writing a day, and off we went.

Now. I wasn’t sure how useful 15 minutes of writing would actually be, but I knew that it would do one thing – it would help build a habit. Regardless of how long I wrote for, it was the actual need to sit down and do it that I wanted to generate. Like brushing your teeth, or eating breakfast.

Well, to get straight to the point, I’m now 39 days in and it has gone brilliantly. Not only have I written every day except the four days I had a horrendous stomach bug (the perils of having school-age children), but I also managed 20,000 words in the first 30 days.

Let me just say that again: 20,000 words in 30 days.

And not once did I take a day out to just sit and write, or spend an afternoon cleverly crafting plot lines, or even ignore my family for three solid hours while I beavered away on the computer  hidden in an upstairs room.

Instead I snatched 15 minutes when I could, usually when my daughter napped, but during school holidays it tends to be the first 15 minutes after they are all in bed.

As anyone who has ever finished a book of any length can tell you, getting that first draft down and complete is the hardest part. Editing is positively sublime in comparison. I’m estimating the project I’m working on at the moment will be about 70,000 words, so if I carry on at the same sort of rate, my first draft will be finished by about the end of January and then the fun can really begin!

I Didn’t Make The Shortlist…

For the Mslexia Women’s Novel Competition 2015.

I received email notification today. I was disappointed (obviously! how could they not love it!), but not desperately surprised (I did finish it in rather a rush).

Having spent some time away from the novel, I know there are some serious revisions to be done, maybe even a rewrite of the second half, but for now I have a brand new baby girl to concentrate on, so that will all have to wait 🙂

Novel Complete!

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I am FINISHED!

“Edith’s Questions” is done.

To be honest, it’s not in exactly the format I’d envisaged and it’s a little shorter than I wanted what with the rush to complete my submission, but my novel is now with the lovely ladies at Mslexia and I won’t hear anything more until December, when the shortlist will be announced.

I’ve worked on it like a demon over the last two weeks and I am telling you that editing and finishing an entire book in that time is no easy job!

Longlisted for the Mslexia Women’s Novel Competition 2015!

The title says it all!! I am SO pleased, and excited!

Edith’s Questions is the title of the book and I started it at the beginning of this year when an idea popped into my head that I just couldn’t stop thinking about.

I have to send in the complete manuscript now, which is not quite ready to go (when is a novel ever ready?). I’m still writing, editing, and adding things, and making little changes and checking the storyline is coherent… It’s been an exhausting few days and sitting at a desk at 35 weeks pregnant is not exactly comfortable.

Nonetheless, I shall be sending my finished novel off early next week, no matter what (well, actually, going into labour early might be about the only thing that could stop me).

I’ll update once the book has flown the nest. Right now, I have work to do ?.

Novel Update and Competition Entry

So, here I am, plodding along. The story has grown and developed a life of it’s own, which I’m pleased about. It isn’t quite what I imagined when I first started out, but it feels more substantial now. My main character, Edith, is more her own person rather than the idea of the person she was when I first began.

I’m not quite finished, but I’ve entered the first 5,000 words in the Mslexia Novel Competition.

Why oh why have I done this before I’ve written the final chapters? I can’t really answer that. I just felt like it was ready for a bit of fresh air. I’ve also settled on a title after weeks of getting a blank whenever I thought about it. It’s called Edith’s Questions. At least for now. And I like that because it’s simple and it’s exactly what the novel is all about 🙂

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