In praise of laziness

It’s been a shockingly long time since I wrote a proper blog post. Apologies, but I’m not quite sure where March and most of April went!

I think the last time I mentioned my NaNoWriMo draft from November 2016, Murder At The Playgroup, was when I’d done a read-through preliminary to beginning THE EDIT (I finally read my NaNoWriMo draft and it isn’t terrible!). Be thankful. The MS has now been edited, with enough passes to make a terrible round on Mastermind, and is in the hands of beta readers before I take it back and mess with it again.

I have spared you the frightful tale of the filtering verbs, the continuity checks, and the other minutiae towards the end of the edit which make me wonder why I do this at all. Overall, it wasn’t so bad; it’s just that end bit. I do like refining and polishing and rewriting, but when I get to the point of changing things, pondering, and changing them back again, I figure it’s probably time to stop. Anyway, preliminary beta feedback is good, and I’m quietly hopeful for a May launch. There, I said it.

The other thing I’ve been beavering away at is my Camp NaNoWriMo project. Well, hardly beavering; largely slothing, to be honest. My project is a novella, the sequel to A Jar of Thursday, and I’ve set a word target of 25,000, which is pretty puny beside the (to me) behemoth of NaNoWriMo’s 50K. But there was method in my slackness. Honest. Let me explain.

  1. I suspected that the month I’d set aside to edit Murder At The Playgroup wouldn’t be quite enough, and I was right. As well as my usual tutoring commitments, I’d taken on a couple of extra sessions which took a day out of my writing time, and also attended a day-long Amazon Academy event in Manchester (I’ll write a separate post about that soon). Oh, and there were some bits and bobs in the evenings too. So it was 7 April when I finally sent the book-so-far out to beta readers, and rolled my sleeves up to get cracking with Something Blue. As you can see from my Camp NaNo stats below.

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 19.13.11

2. Lack of prep time (and possibly inclination). I started the project with maybe three A4 sides of hasty outline and character notes, done in March and covering some of the first half. At least I know most of my characters from the first book! Basically, I wrote up to the point where I had minimal plot left, and then outlined the rest of the book in about an hour, since by then I knew much more about the story. It’s a simpler book in structure than A Jar of Thursday, and I think part of the not-quite-a-block I was having was that I forgot I only needed to plot for 25-30,000 words, not a novel.

3. Easter and other life events. I’ve actually managed to write more than I had planned over the Easter break, but with the SATs coming up for my eldest, and both their birthdays within three weeks, I decided to set a writing goal on the easy side.

4. Launching the next book. I mentioned earlier that I want to launch Murder At The Playgroup in May, and that has been given extra focus by the Kindle Storyteller contest. So I have a cover to sort out, a marketing plan to write and implement, and advance reader copies to send out. If you like cozy mysteries, drop me a line and I’ll send you an e-copy when it’s done, in exchange for an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads!

5. I’d rather under-promise and over-achieve than the reverse. So far, I’ve done 2 full NaNoWriMos and one Camp, plus 2 unofficial JanuWriMos, and hit my target each time. I’d far rather aim a bit lower and achieve it than set an unrealistic goal and beat myself up about it for the rest of the year. Plus, given my lack of a detailed outline, I really wasn’t sure what length the book would turn out to be. Setting 25K as a minimum gives me the freedom not to worry if the book’s shorter than anticipated. I want to write a good book at the right length, not pad it. And let’s be honest, if I need to write 2000 words to finish the book in the first week of May, it’s not the end of the world.

So there you have it. Today, after a day of squeezing writing in before breakfast and while the kids were at a Lego-fest, my Camp NaNoWriMo word count finally met the projected line. If I keep going at the same pace, I will finish on April 30. I might even have the whole first draft done by then. But the fact that it’s taken me till April 18 to get there makes me think that I was right to be a lazy so-and-so.

The featured image is Sloth, by ZeMoufette, and is shared under Creative Commons license 2.0.


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