Camp NaNoWriMo is almost over! Today, Camp Nano participant Linzé Brandon shares some strategies for climbing that final hill on the way to the finish line of your Camp project:
In South Africa, we have an annual ultra-marathon, The Comrades Marathon. The race alternates between starting (and ending) in Durban and ending (and starting) in Pietermaritzburg.
When the race ends in Pietermaritzburg, the last hill before the finish is known as Polly Shortts. Only the professional runners run up this hill. Everyone else walks, or stops frequently. After 80km on the road, this is more than a hill, it is a mountain to tired legs and exhausted minds. This steep hill of about 7km reminds me of the last steps to finishing a novel.
Many writers, like the amateur Comrades runners, fail to reach the finish line because of that last hill. So what does it take to get to the finish line?
This is my strategy to conquer the last hill of novel writing or yourPolly Shortts:
I have been a reader for most of my life, but I only started writing in 2001. To be honest, I had no clue what I was doing, but I loved the process of sitting down and writing a story. Although my manuscript was rejected by a traditional publisher, their feedback was encouraging and surprisingly positive.
Twelve years after I wrote my first fictional word, I enrolled in an online creative writing course. And that is where my life as a self-published author got the kick-start I needed. Not all the feedback I received was bubbly, but people loved my stories.
Soon after the course, I published my first novel. Self-publishing can be a minefield. It took me a while to recognize that I finally ran my Polly Shortts. What I didn’t like was how long it took me to get to that finish line. I had to come up with a new plan.
Who are you: the marathon runner or the sprinter?
Sprinters are writers who enjoy the thrill, and competitiveness, of word sprints. Sprinters write in short and explosive bursts. Ten or fifteen minutes of focused writing and suddenly three hundred or four hundred words are penned to the page. Do this often enough, and your novel will get finished.
I am the marathon runner. I set myself a daily writing time of two hours. I don’t have a target number of words, but I can write 1000 words per hour, with a break of 15 minutes in the middle—to make a cup of coffee of course.
Small steps lead to big rewards.
I break my project down into smaller chunks: e.g. edit 3 pages today. And sometimes end up doing a whole chapter. Achieving that small goal makes that hill seem not so steep anymore.
Sometimes in life, we have to stop because we need to take a rest, and then we fall behind schedule. When deadlines or the last day of NaNoWriMo are looming, it would be the time to take a deep breath and get ready for Plan B.
With a deadline, you know when you have to be finished, so the target is known. For Camp NaNoWriMo, you can change your goal or do a bit more every day to make up for what has not been completed. For editing, it might be an extra page, or for writing, it may be an additional 500 words.
Every one of us has that last hill to run before we get to the finish line. Even with more than twenty published books to my credit, I still have to face my Polly Shortts every time.
With a plan in place, broken down into smaller more achievable chunks, finishing my next book remains the run up a steep hill, but it no longer feels like an impossible mountain.
In January 2019 Linzé left her full-time job to enjoy the challenges of self-employment. Now she spends her days doing competence training and engineering consulting work. When she isn’t writing, she likes to read, or draw with color pencils, pastels, and ink. She leads the Pretoria Writers Group, of which all the members are published authors. Linzé is married to an engineer and they have three German Shepherd dogs who think the world revolves around them. You can connect with Linzé online: Instagram @linzebrandon; Facebook @LinzeBrandonAuthor; Twitter @LinzeBrandon; Blog: Butterfly on a Broomstick; and find her books on Smashwords.