I know a lot of you are taking part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November, so I thought I would share my own progress for day 1, in case there are any tips or tricks that might help you out as well, or perhaps you can share your tips and tricks to help me grow too. If you want to know more about NaNoWriMo before you read any further, then check out my blog post here, and please do feel free to add me as a writing buddy if you fancy some moral support along the way.
I wrote my first cozy mystery book 'Dead on Doughnuts' a little over a month ago, and though I was fairly happy with it, I always felt like it (and my readers) deserved more. I think this is reflected in the reviews which said that my story was brilliant, but that I needed a better proofreader because there were so many typos. Given that I wrote and published this book fairly quickly, without the funds for cover designs or editing, and that I wrote it during an incredibly stressful time, I'll take those reviews with pride, in fact they are so much more positive than I could ever have hoped for, That book was my learning book, the one which proved to me that I could write in the genre, that I loved writing in the genre, and that there would be people eager to read my books. That gave me the confidence boost and self belief that I needed to make the leap, and now I'm ready to take my time, and to do things properly, as and when funds allow. This starts with finding an editor and a cover designer.
Establishing a Routine - Pomodoro Method
Whilst each book goes off for editing, I'll be focused on getting down new words, for new books each day, but with the goal of getting myself into an established routine, so that it becomes second nature and that I continue to write every single day for a minimum number of hours, no matter where I am or what I am doing. This is going to be crucial if I want to be a professional cozy mystery writer. To help me with this I'm trying out the Pomodoro method of setting the NaNoWriMo word sprint timer for 25 minutes at a time, and then seeing how many words I can get down before the timer goes off. At the end of each 25 minute session, I have 5 minutes to stretch, nip to the toilet, and to get anything out of my system that might be distracting me - checking Facebook or emails for example. I'd like to get to the point where I have 6 sessions like that per day - giving me 2.5 hours of writing time per day minimum. I have to say, this worked like a dream for me this morning, and after a few days of establishing this as a habit, I think it will be life changing. This is also going to be a big improvement in looking after myself mentally and physically after sitting for long periods of time the past few months.
An Early Start
My alarm was set for 6am because I'm staying in a guesthouse whilst I save up to buy a place of my own, so finding quietness can be a bit of a challenge, but mornings are generally the quietest. As it happened, my cat decided to wake me up at 5.30 am and once I was up, I knew that resting my eyes for a few more minutes before the alarm went off would be a bad move. So instead, I checked my emails, and spent a few minutes filling in a survey on Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT). If you struggle with a low income like I do, then I can certainly recommend AMT as you get paid for doing really quick and simply tasks. I spent no more than 2 minutes filling in a survey for a PhD student and was rewarded with $6 of credit on Amazon.com. If you are based in India or the US then you can be paid in cash, but if like me you are in the UK, you can only get paid in Amazon.com credits. I use my credits for two things, firstly to save up and buy things like laptops or iPhones which ship to the UK for not too much extra in postage, or more commonly, I use my credits to buy Starbucks gift vouchers which I then upload to an app on my phone. That funds my Starbucks habit, plus with the app, every 15 drinks, you get one for free, plus another one free on your birthday, and you get to try out all the new drinks like Christmas ones before they go on general sale.
So just before 6am, I walked to Starbucks with my dog (our local branch is dog friendly so I do write there from time to time), and she was delighted to get a free 'puppuccino' whilst I (working my way through the entire menu) decided to get an iced green tea lemonade today. Even better, the machine was down so I ended up getting my drink on the house. A quick walk back home, prized my dog from a dodgy old kebab she found on the floor, and I was back in my room at the guesthouse, drink in hand, ready for my day. A quick breakfast and shower, room tidy, and by 6.30am I was already on my first 25 minute word sprint.
By mid morning and having gone through all of my first book, I was feeling a bit sleepy, so I took a quick power nap, had some lunch, and began work on some Vellum formatting and other little projects for clients. This actually worked out well, as the guesthouse owners often clean the rooms of the other guests in the afternoon and it's the hardest time of the day for me to get my concentration.
On the whole, I'm really pleased with how day 1 of NaNoWrimo went, even if it isn't the norm, but in a few days from now, I'd like to see myself sitting down of a morning and doing writing sprints on new books. I've got my eye on my dream home for April 2019, and I want to do everything I can to raise the money I need to buy it, so chipping away at things each and every day will be the best way to reach that goal. I usually find the starting part the most difficult, so my plan is to wake up early, hit Starbucks to try out a new drink each day, by which time, I should be in the writing mindset and habit of coming home and sitting down to work.
How are You Getting on So Far?
I would love to know how you are getting on with your NaNoWriMo, so please do share your experiences in the comments section below.