12 Novellas in 12 Months? What was I thinking?

This is the question that has been plaguing me these past few days. After beating NaNoWriMo for the third time last November, and managing to write an extended 75000 words in 29 days (I finished one day early due to a miraculous 11000 word day right at the end of the month), I felt amazing, almost invincible, but then, after some contemplation, lazy. Why? Because it occurred to me that I write like there is no tomorrow for one month of the year, and then slack off and barely write a thing for the remainder of the year.

So what did I do? I drank enormous amounts of wine to celebrate the fact that I even wrote one novel a year. I decided that I should challenge myself by writing more over the whole year. At first the idea of this blog came to me, but some voice deep inside taunted me, told me I could do better than that, I could push myself harder than that. I love a challenge, even if it is coming from my own inner voice of unreasoning, and so I came up with this idea of writing 12 novellas in 12 months. I figured, a novella is roughly 100 pages in paperback form, or 30 000 words, so it averages out at 1000 words a day. I can handle that, I thought – if I could write 75000 words in a month, I can surely do 30000 words every month for a whole year.

What I didn’t count on was that I just wouldn’t be in the mood. What I also didn’t count on was that I would sit down, start my first novella, and hate it within a couple of weeks, forcing myself to start from scratch, stuff around for a couple of days, and leave myself with only 2 weeks to write the whole thing. What I didn’t count on was this situation I now find myself in – 9 days left, and I’m only 7500 words into it. Do the maths – this is beginning to look an awful lot like last November. Oh joy… Anyway, so the novella is now a Dystopian Comedy, set about 250 years in the future, in Australia. No, really. I don’t know why, I don’t know where this idea came from, and I have no clue where it is going. But actually it’s kind of fun. I really just hope I have a couple of ‘miracle’ days of writing again. Preferably soon.

Some people have asked why I am doing this anyway, especially when I have the first drafts for three different novels, two of which I have admitted I would like to rewrite and edit to the point of them being, perhaps one day, publishable. The reason is that I simply don’t feel I am a good enough writer to rewrite those novels to the standard I want. I feel like I haven’t written enough, I haven’t created enough, I haven’t experimented enough with different kinds of writing. So by making myself write all year long, and not only under such a strict regime but also in 12 different genres, I am hoping that my writing will improve in leaps and bounds as the year progresses, and that next year, in 2013, I will finally be able to sit down and will possess the skills necessary to give my old novels the rewrite they so desperately need and deserve. Furthermore, I just love creating new stories, and writing a story down for the first time, even more so if I haven’t planned it in the slightest and am just making it up as I go along (something which is happening with my current novella).

Though I feel like the odds are against me, and the pressure is really on, I already know I am going to get through this. I know I will finish this novella, and the other eleven novellas, and in a way I feel I have no choice as about thirty to forty other people found this on the NaNoWriMo forums and are now doing this with me as well – so considering I created the monster, I should also ensure I slay it (oh man that was a terrible analogy).

What was I thinking when I created this goal? It is a mystery that may never be solved…

What writing goals have you all set yourselves this year? How are you all feeling about them several weeks into the year?

12 thoughts on “12 Novellas in 12 Months? What was I thinking?

  1. There was a time when I would have thought I was capable of writing as much as you have resolved to do, but that is no longer the case. When my kids were both in school, finances were such that I didn’t need to work, so I could devote a large portion of my day to writing. In those eight years, I managed to complete five novels, about a dozen short children’s ghost stories and a half dozen more adult shorts, as well as numerous other projects that I started but didn’t get the momentum to finish. Now that the kids are young adults, bills from higher educational organizations have eaten away at our monthly finances, as well as necessary renovations to our home and the replacement of old, failing vehicles. I returned to the work force and seem to have become invaluable to certain classrooms because they keep calling me back to sub for their sick and injured educational assistants. I have become a frustrated writer, because I know longer have the luxury of morning time to write. After work, I am so exhausted that my brain shuts down and writing is out of the question. Weekends require time spent cleaning and tidying and heaps of laundry that need to be done, reducing writing time to a few minutes of blogging.

    I commend you your resolution and wish you the best of luck in completing your goals. I look forward to reading about your successes. 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment and well wishes! 🙂 Much appreciated.
      I have to admit, I don’t think I will be able to write like this when I have kids one day. I can find a way to juggle so much writing around my teaching job, and around various other commitments (some of which including more writing), but when I have kids I will have to slow down whether I like it or not. I must also say I am very impressed with how much you managed to write during those eight years you mentioned, even if you didn’t work you would have still been quite busy I imagine.
      But yes, it is hard to find the energy to write. For me although I can write during the day, often my writing is at its best in the late afternoon and at night (sometimes very late into the night), but I do find some days I come home from teaching and am just absolutely shattered. But sometimes writing is a good way to escape and recover from this too. It just depends I suppose. But while I have the energy and time to put into this, I guess I will 🙂

  2. Reblogged this on gotmybook and commented:
    This is an awesome and daunting goal to set for oneself. I am no way near ready to set such a goal but I am rooting for all of you who did! Especially you Mr. The Other Watson 😉

  3. Matt this is really awesome. I can’t imagine the pressure though.. oh, wait I can – and I’m backing the heck away from it hahahhh xD Will you post your novellas somehow so we’ll be able to read your masterpieces? 🙂

    • Thank you 😀 And hahaha yeah the pressure can be intense. It will be later in the year when I’m juggling it with busier times of year at work and a million billion other things. My sleeping habits are doomed. 😛
      And I have started posting my first novella on http://castleco-op.com under a section called The Outlet. I am posting the first one up chapter by chapter because it is being written in 2 weeks and it is going to be terrible, so I thought it’d be funny to post up. The other eleven novellas…we’ll see…maybe I’ll let people see it on special request, via email or something 🙂 (At least the other eleven won’t suck as hard as this first one hahaha).

      • Read the first chapter! I was actually quite hooked, of course I don’t know what is coming but so far so good 😀 And it was funny too, which I guess is a good think when you’re writing a comedy 😛

        • Oh, cool, thanks! That means a lot actually to hear that, especially as this first novella is really my writing at its dodgiest hahaha. But in particular I’m glad to know it was funny…it is so hard to be funny in a story. I think I’m just trying to be funny by…not trying to be funny, as silly as that sounds. Like I’m not trying too hard, I’m just letting it go in a general comedic way, and hoping the characters will ride it out. I wish I had planned it beforehand though…
          Anyway, thanks for reading it too! Chapters 2 and 3 will be going up in the next couple of days, I’m up to Chapter 4 now. 🙂

  4. Hi!! Welcome to the ranks! You’re not crazy – there’s actually a little tribe of us doing the same thing. I’m so happy to find another one!!! I’m working on 12 novels at 50,000 words each.

    Oh, what madness NaNoWriMo brings. You can do it!

    • Oh awesome! Glad to meet somebody else doing it! But 12 novels, wow, that is crazy. I couldn’t handle that many words, which is why I opted for the novellas instead. But yeah, I started a small group in the NaNoWriMo forum and also on FB so theres a couple of people I know also doing it in their own forms.

      But yes, NaNoWriMo definitely changes people, makes us realise just what we are capable of, I suppose! 🙂 But thank you for the encouragement, it is nice to know I’m not alone in such writing madness hahaha!

      Also just had a squiz at your blog, great blog you have there! 🙂

  5. Ok, squiz just might be my new favorite word ever. And thank you for the compliment! 🙂

    How fun! I love that there are so many writers out in this world doing what we’re supposed to be doing. Novellas are definitely a much more sane goal. I’m one of those odd ducks who thrives under enormous pressure.

    Point me to these groups you speak of! I wish to have writer mania commiseration!

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