I never really thought I’d succeed in writing 100k words in 100 days, which was Sally Quilford’s challenge starting on 1st January. But I joined to see what I’d manage. And Sally wrote:

As far as I’m concerned, if you get to 9th April having written 30k words, and it’s more than you’d normally write, you’ve done well!

So today I passed the 30k mark and I’m delighted.

I did well!

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Both involve me but are mainly about others.

Firstly, I’ve been helping to edit a series of novels by David Rory O’Neill. The novels are all connected but can all be read alone. Together, they span over a century and are full of very reachable characters, who overcome personal issues and historical events, keeping readers turning the pages. I love the stories, and sometimes find myself continuing with the editing when I should be doing other things.

The Prairie Companions

One of these books, The Prairie Companions, will be free to download for a few days from tomorrow. This is a wonderful chance to sample a lovely set of novels.

—o—

I’ve just completed an online course. I’ve never taken an online course before, so I can’t compare it with anything, but this course was everything I expected and a lot more.

It’s Sally Quilford’s Pocket Novel Workshop. She’s running another one in June, and I highly recommend it. I found it extremely helpful and enjoyable. Sally hands out plenty of information and sets useful exercises. Her expert comments on the exercises provide very helpful advice for all participants.

If you’re wondering about this genre, I did too, once. Until one day when I felt things were getting on top of me and I happened to have a romance with me and I let it take me away to another world. Pocket novels are a form of escapism. Sometimes, it’s just what you need.

I have to face up to it. I’m never going to write 100,000 words in 100 days, which is what I pledged set out to attempt to do by joining Sally Quilford’s challenge.

BUT I’m not disappointed. I have written something every day since the challenge began. Sometimes I managed over 1,000 words. Other days I wrote fewer words. Today, I wrote all 120 words of a whole piece and that’s enough for today. I shall spend the rest of the day reading, editing and critiquing.

For me, writing 1,000 words every day is too much. Writing something every day is possible and is a practice I plan to continue after the challenge ends.

Happiness is being proud of your achievements.

Yesterday’s post brought this interesting comment from David Rory:

Sorry if this is one of those daft obvious questions – but why?
I see lots of writers getting involved in this kind of exercise and I’ve always wondered what are they are meant to achieve?
I guess I just can’t get my head round the idea of writing as an exercise in maths or strength building, like lifting weights.
I genuinely don’t get the motivation.
Once I’m ready to write I just do it and go on to the end. The word count per day is just not an issue for consideration. When I’m in the flow it can be anything from 800 to 4000+ per day.
I’m not meaning to be critical at all. I am truly interested to know what benefit you see in this kind of exercise.

I decided my reply needed a new post – this one.

If you can write like that, without any extra motivation, that’s wonderful. Carry on doing what you do. I wrote my first novel in that way. I knew my characters, I planned the whole story and even divided it up into chapters. Then I just wrote whenever I had time. I had a message I wanted to get out and I was keen to do it as fast as possible.

After writing my novel, I sent it to friends who liked it and made a few cautious comments. Then I joined my writing group, where I received many less cautious comments and learned a lot about writing. I rewrote the novel and attempted to find a publisher but eventually realised that my story, despite being enjoyed especially by those who could empathise with the characters, wouldn’t appeal to a publisher.

Now, I have more of an idea of what works and less confidence. I wonder if there’s any point to all this writing. Will I ever be able to get my message out?

Also, I like to write short stories. I’ve had more success with them, at the writing group and in the wide world. But short story writing isn’t the same as novel writing. There’s nothing pushing you to continue. Once you finish a story, that’s it. You can start a new one or you can chat on Twitter, have your goes in ongoing Scrabble games, tidy the kitchen.

Exercises like 100k in 100 days provide the motivation. Participants can post their achievements. And they can discuss any difficulties they might have with others who are attempting to do the same thing and will provide support.

That’s my reply. Would anyone else like to comment?

Yes, I signed up for 100k in 100 days, another initiative by Sally Quilford. Can I write one thousand words a day for  a hundred days? I didn’t quite manage it last time, when I only had to write 80k in 80 days, so what makes me think I can do it this time?

Well, not a lot. But one thing I decided last time was that I need to do more planning beforehand. So now I have 21 days to plan. It doesn’t have to be a novel. It can be short stories or even non-fiction, but not a blog post on my own blog.

Any ideas? No, I think I have to come up with the ideas. Now where did I put that thinking cap?

She finds him sitting at his desk staring at an empty page, pen poised. “Do you know that forty-eight is 110000 in binary, 60 in octal, 40 in duodecimal and 30 in hexadecimal?”

He keeps his eyes fixed on the empty page. “No. Well, I would if I worked it out but I have other things on my mind just now.”

“Do you know that forth-eight in Roman numerals is XLVIII?”

“Yes.” His eyes still haven’t moved.

“Do you know that forth-eight in Hebrew numbering is מ”ח, which is also the root of the word that means protest?”

He turns his head towards her, blackness creeping over his face. “Yes. Now if you don’t mind…”

“Do you know that the factorisation of forth-eight is 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 3?”

“Yes, but…”

“Do you know that forty-eight is half of ninety-six?”

“Yes.” Anger is creeping into his voice.

“Do you know that forty-eight is a third of a gross and four dozen?”

“Yes.” The anger is more noticeable.

“Do you know that forty-eight is a highly composite number, a semiperfect number, the second 17-gonal number, the smallest number with exactly 10 divisors, a Stormer number and a Harshad number?”

“Yes. Well – no. I don’t even know what those things mean, but really I’m trying…”

“Do you know that forty-eight is the atomic number of cadmium?”

“No. Look, please…”

“Do you know that Siddhartha Gautama sat under a bodhi tree for forty-eight days attempting to understand the nature of reality and the universe, and ended up with Buddhism?”

He scowls at her. “No, I don’t. And I don’t give…”

“Do you know that Johann Sebastian Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier is informally known as The Forty-Eight because it consists of a prelude and a fugue in each major and minor key, for a total of forty-eight pieces?”

He throws down his pen with an action that causes its components to separate. “Yes, I had heard of that, but why…”

“Do you know that forty-eight is the code for international direct dial phone calls to Poland?”

He breathes out slowly to calm himself. It doesn’t work. “No.” Ink is seeping onto the empty page.

“Do you know that ’48 is an alternate history novel by James Herbert?”

Surprisingly, he discovers his anger is seeping away. He is becoming resigned to this interruption. “How do you know all this?”

“Most of it’s in Wikipedia.”

“And why this fascination with the number forty-eight?”

Sally Quilford is forty-eight today.”

He’s smiling. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Err… I am telling you?”