Sunday, 27 January 2013

ROW 80 Check in 5 - How Not To Do A 30 Hour Novel

Not the Rosiest of Forecasts 

I have not failed in doing the 30 hour novel, I have very successfully found useful information on how not to write a 30 hour novel!

Based on my day of experience, here is my top advice for anyone that wants to write a 30 hour novel:

1. Don't. 

This is not to totally discourage you, but to make you think about why you would want to do this?

I admit, I wanted to do it to show off. This is not a good reason at all. 

If, say, I was totally excited about an idea, so much so that it kept me awake at night, and I decided I would take all the passion for that idea, and just lock myself away from the world and pour it all out over 30 hours, this would be a perfectly good thing. But if you are writing solely to write 'a 30 hour novel', it is a waste of your effort and time. If it is a good idea it deserves being developed properly, if it is a bad idea don't waste the 30 hours on it. 

2. Have a character to start with. 

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I'm a big fan of letting your creative youth take over and doing discovery writing. I am now revising this theory just a little bit. 

You need to have something to start with. 

Yesterday I sat down with absolutely nothing. No name, no image, not even a time period. I started writing, and then just kept going with all the weird stuff that came up. This is not the way to start a time-pressured writing piece. 

I came up with some good concepts, but 3,000 words in realised what I had were a few points that needed to be sorted, brainstormed and extended, in amongst a whole lot of confusing not so good stuff. It was not the beginning of a story. It might, just might, have been the beginning of an idea. Trying to turn it into a story without sorting it out was a mistake.  

I am now coming to believe that for me I need to have a grasp of my main characters and the overall feel of the book before I can be expected to sit down and do long writing sessions. If I had taken the time to plot out my characters and understand the environment I was going to put them into, then I could have done the discovery writing much more successfully, and without feeling like I was trying to sculpt using my own brain matter.

3. Run Away Where People Can't Find You.

So, one of the guys I was meant to be having a date with, but called off because I was going to be writing all day, offered to drop off some supplies. This seemed very sweet, and I reminded him that I would be writing. However, if felt super rude to have this guy turn up, give me food and then kick him out, so I offered him a drink. His reply should have alerted me potential problems:

'Just water for now, I'll have a tea later.' 

Um, excuse me? Later? How long did you think you were going to stay? Writing, remember? 

But I wanted to be polite, and the food was great (market cheese and dips with crackers), and did enjoy talking to him, but after over an hour (!!) I suggested I needed to get back to writing, and it took another 20 minutes to get him out the door. 

Then my little sister rang to say my brother Tim had just flown in from Brisbane as a surprise for Australia day, was I coming up for the family dinner? 

Seriously people? What part of 'writing, all day' did you not get? 

But as I was getting nowhere, I gave up and went up to my parents. 

So, conclusion: no 30 hour novel, but some good advice.

If I were to do it all again, which maybe one day I will, though not on the first day of my holiday when I'm still stressed and tired and people are wanting things from me, this is how I would approach it:

1. Read more motivational material before starting. 
2. Spend the week before brainstorming and developing enthusiasm for an idea. Do some in depth character description and build up an emotional context for the story.
3. Run away with no communication and lots of supplies to a place where I can be totally self-indulgent and just write with no disruptions. 

And I would have to seriously consider if this was the best thing for my book and my mental health. 

So, sorry for letting everyone down, and I do feel I broke very easily, but I think if I had continued on I would have made things even worse. 

From now on, I'm going to be setting ROW 80 check-in by check-in goals because, frankly, I'm really tired and need to take better care of my mental capabilities. 

So, I'm now officially on holidays (yah!), so for the next few days, until the Wednesday Check in, I want to edit the introduction and first day of my e-book, I want to write at least 3 articles, and finally get my fitness blog transferred and up and running. 

We'll see how that goes. 

Thanks everyone for the support, I really appreciated it.


  1. As you pointed out at the very beginning of this post, maybe you failed at one thing but you succeeded at something else. You learned a lot from this experience and then you were willing to share it, so we could all learn from you. So in the big picture, I don't see this as a failure at all.

    1. Thanks Chris! I'm glad that my experiment might help others, as well as telling me a lot about my own writing.

  2. I blame WFB.

    Also, got your message, phone still not working. I'm at work tonight but hope you have a fun day at home... will see you early this week I'm sure. :)

  3. Don't beat yourself up too hard. The point of 30 hour novel or even Novel in a Month isn't a race to see if you can do a complete novel in those times. It's to give you an excuse to get started and focus and make progress.

    You might try using the snowflake method:

    The next time to get started.

    I just found that method yesterday.

    Just keep at it. You can do it.

    1. That snowflake method looks fascinating. I might do a post on it. Let me know how the process works for you.

  4. As a Fast Draft fail veteran, I understand completely! And I'm a writer who always does brainstorming before I start. :) But then, for me, there are always things that pop up during the writing that need some more brainstorming and planning, things I didn't take into consideration initially -- because I didn't even know about them at the time!

    You live and learn, and that's important too. :) Have a great week!