I started this year off by taking part in Sally's Quilford's challenge to write 100K words in 100 days. It felt a bit daunting but it’s on average 1,000 words a day which makes it sounds more do-able. It's also a challenge not a competition and there's great support both from Sally and others who've also signed up so we can share ups and downs, stops and starts.
One week in and, despite being a bit behind my 1,000 words a day target (thanks to the tax man’s deadlines and me being rather disorganised in the accounts department), I'm enjoying it and determined to stick with it. I am much more productive when I think someone else has set targets and deadlines, so it's a great incentive. And I am also already surprising myself (in a good way!).
My big project – my main Work In Progress if you like (gosh that sounds like ‘proper’ writing) – that I want to finish is about the trip I took with my son last year. It was the first time I’d been backpacking at the grand old age of 41, the first time we’d done three countries in one holiday, the first time we’d been quite so adventurous. Not as adventurous as many other people's expeditions I know and it is in no way a travel guide. Not unless you want to know where to find the Jeremy Clarkson lookalikey handing out leaflets in Prague. Or get as excited as I did at getting a blanket with your meal at restaurants in Budapest. Or where to find the computer shop in Vienna that puts unwanted parts outside at the end of the day for anyone passing to take for free (much to son’s delight). It is more Duff Guide than Rough Guide.
But I am really enjoying writing it, recalling where we went, what we did, who we met. We crammed a lot into a short time, had plenty of fun, lots of laughs and one or two hairy moments – like taking the wrong train and ending up at ‘the border’ totally clueless of what border we were actually at.
I find writing it I’m also reflecting on the relationship with my son, after 14 years of single parenthood we have a close, wonderfully warm relationship. But inevitably as he grows up and I get older, it changes – it's not becoming any less good, just different. It won’t be very long until he takes off on holidays with his mates rather than his mum, so it was a pretty special trip for many reasons.
The other point that persuaded me I could do the 100k 100 days challenge is that you don’t have to stick to just one project or piece or even type of writing. So as I’m also working on non-fiction articles and reviews I’m really pleased I can add these to my word count too.
A lot of writing I'm focused on is non-fiction which is what I am most comfortable with and used to. I enjoy writing fiction but have less confidence and experience of it, though do have books full of ideas, stories started, outlines of plots and characters, odd paragraphs pulled together.
Then yesterday, looking at Sally’s always interesting daily prompts I surprised myself when, inspired by one of them, I put pen to paper (literally - and another surprise as I always use a computer or my beloved iPad!) and started writing a short story. It flowed quite spontaneously and I was as pleased with myself as I was surprised. Is it any good? I don’t know and as I’m going for just getting words onto paper at the moment, quantity over quality, I’m not even worrying about that. Yet.
Like so many things, once you start on something like this challenge I think it’s fascinating just to go with it and see where it takes you. For me, I’m already going places I hadn’t planned at all!
So, thank you Sally – and here’s to the next 92,000!