I have already written about my experience at Camp Nanowrimo, unlike the times I have participated in, (and won) the full Nanowrimo event in November, this time I struggled to write 10,000 words during the month. Nonetheless the experience was a positive one and I’ve learnt some important lessons, about my writing process and my life in general.

1) I can write 500 words in 30 minutes.

When the conditions are right it is possible for me to write 500 words in half an hour. But the conditions have to be right. This might sound like I’m making excuses for my lack of progress but my conditions are actually fairly simple.

  • Listening to the sound of rain, to block out the world. (I’ve previously written to music, but rain is much better.
  • No interruptions. This is very hard to achieve with children in the house.

2) Restarting a first draft halfway through is very hard.

My project for Camp Nanowrimo was a novel I started during Nanowrimo in 2014. I loved writing the story and it flowed really well. However, once November finished I suddenly realised how close Christmas was and writing was put on hold while I got my house and family ready for the Christmas period. In the new year instead of finishing the first draft of my new novel I started editing Portal Wars. July was the first time I sat down and properly worked on the new story.

It took far too long to reenter the story, partly because of a distinct lack of peace and quiet, partly because of needing to reintegrate with the story, (remembering names, events, plot points etc.), but mostly because I hadn’t allowed myself the mental space to transition into a new story after sending Portal Wars off to the editor and changing jobs.

3) Audio Books are both great and distracting.

My new job means I have a 15 minute train journey to and from work three times a week. So whereas before I would cycle to and from work, giving me time to think about writing, now I listen to stories. I also tend to listen to stories when walking around on my own, or cleaning.

I love listening to stories on Audible, and have listened/ read to some amazing books recently, (J. F. Penn, Platt and Truant,) but I do wonder if I should devote some of these journeys to writing. In fact due to technical difficulties I wrote the first draft of this post on the train, scribbling into my faithful Moleskine note book.

Come September, when the kids are in school, I will have two dedicated writing days a week, and will spend some of my train journeys planning the next days writing.

4) It takes time to find balance family life, writing and a new job.

As I have mentioned before I changed my job at the end of June. I now work for an independent games publishing company, doing sales and marketing. I love my new job, I’m learning things that will help my writing career and am using my brain in a creative way.

However, as I’m now spending three days a week being creative, I often don’t feel like writing when I get back home. I think its because writing and my new job use the same parts of my brain, whereas my old job used different skills.

I am also enjoying spending the evenings with my family, my shift pattern meant that I would always have times when I spent evenings away from home. I was also able to snatch small periods of time before and after a shift. This doesn’t really happen with my new job, and means I’m a lot more relaxed and less stressed.

In September this won’t be a problem, but for now my output has been greatly reduced. I need to find a new summer writing target and consistently reach it. I should be able to carve out 8 sessions, (half an hour each) per week. At 500 words per session I should be able to reach 4000 words a week. I’ve even bought myself a reward chart to keep myself accountable.