You may have noticed that I haven’t posted any reports for October and November, but it doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned 365k Club’s challenge. Quite to the contrary. The last months of 2015 were busy for me, both writing-wise and life-wise, so I might have not updated my “A Month of Writing” reports, but I definitely kept writing.
In October, I have found myself at loss. I’ve just finished a fantasy novella and I was craving for another bigger project to start, but the things I had in line weren’t fleshed out enough to dive right into them (yes, I’m a helpless plotter, I need my stories and novels outlined before I start), so I thought another not-serious story would work well with my plans to wrap up the 365k Club’s challenge and focusing on editing the novel I’ve finished in June, so I picked what I thought was a simple sci-fi novel—one of those I always plotted, but considered not really worth the time.
I also took part in the 10 Minute Novelists group’s event “Walk/Run/Write 5k” in which the participants try to walk or run 5 kilometers, and then write 5k words, all within 24 hours. I can tell you I’m glad the event takes place over the weekend, and you get to choose when your 24-hour clock starts ticking, otherwise I’d never be able to complete the challenge. And funny enough, I thought the getting out of my apartment and going for a long walk (I’m not the running type) will be tricky part, but I actually completed this part with ease. Writing 5000 words turned out much more difficult, and I’ve split it in half, squeezing some sleep in between, and won the challenge an hour before the deadline. Taking part in that challenge also boosted my progress towards the 365k words goal and made me confident I’d finish it before December.
November meant the NaNoWriMo madness started all around me, and for a moment I felt tempted to take part it in, but even though I knew I could probably win it, I still felt NaNoWriMo isn’t for me. I also expected to finish my 365k Club challenge mid-November and planned to limit my writing time to focus on the novel editing, so signing up seemed pointless.
And mid-November, among having guests over and meeting friends, I’ve finally reached the 365k written words. It was, supposedly, time to stop. But the fun project I picked for the last stretch of the challenge, turned out not only fun… but also quite serious. I couldn’t just drop it, not in the middle of having my characters solve their problems and learn how to communicate, so I kept writing, and by the month’s end I boasted another month of having written 1000 words every day. Of course, the routine I’ve been building throughout the year also played a part in my decision—the thought of ceasing my habit seemed an odd one.
The momentum of my novel pushed me into December, and I kept writing, until I found myself at the last scene. It felt odd to write the last sentence: “She didn’t.” and then type two more words after it: THE END. I remembered the exhilarating feeling of accomplishment that accompanied finishing “By His Will” in June, and this time it was no different, though it felt familiar enough for me not to spam everybody with my joy (alright, I did spam a little bit here and there…).
And since I had time off in day job at the end of December, I found time to edit “By His Will”—a fun work of rediscovering what I’ve written and enjoying making it better.
I also made an experiment. I skipped a day. Well, not really, I still wrote, the glorious amount of 60 words, but I definitely didn’t even try to make to the 1000. I wondered, whether I’d be able to go back to writing or I’d fall for the excuse of the completed challenge. And guess what? I’m back at writing.
With only several days until 2015 ends, I can already say that 365k Club turned out to be a huge success for me, and for other participants too—not all of them completed the challenge, but they’ve pushed their limits and searched for worked best for them. Personally, I’m grateful to Katharine Grubb whose comment gave me that little nudge and made me sign up against my pessimistic conviction I’m not capable of writing daily. If not her, I wouldn’t have written over 420 000 words this year, I wouldn’t have finished two novels, a novella, several short stories, drabbles, blog posts, and many random texts along the way. Of course, not all of it is publishable, and both novels will have to go through rigorous editing before I consider them “good”, but they are there, waiting for me to work on them. This wouldn’t have happened without 365k Club, so since I’m doing shout outs, one has to go to Jessica White who single-handedly coordinated the challenge, making it fun for all the participants. A big thank you to you, Jessica!
Looking back at the year, I also noticed how I’ve grown as a writer: not only I went from trying to find the right mood to write, to sitting down and writing regardless of the mood (I’ve learned that the mood will come once I force the first words out and keep writing), but I also improved language-wise. I’m more confident with my English and I spot more of my own mistakes while editing, while a story I wrote in Polish this year proved that I haven’t lost the command of my native language as much as I feared (still, some more writing would be good so that I don’t get rusty).
Of course, the main goal of the challenge was to form a writing habit, so as much as I’d like to fall back into my lazy ways of “I only write every once a while”, I can’t use the excuse of being incapable of keeping to the daily writing regime. I proved myself wrong, so it was obvious to me that I’m joining 365k Club in 2016 too. The new edition lets the participants pick their goals (from 100k words in a year to 500k), and even though I’m staying with my 1000 words a day, I’ll be aiming for something more: for balancing my writing and editing, because with so many words produced, I need to find time to revise them. I’m curious to see how it pans out.
Thank you for being with me during this journey of writing and discovery, and see you in 2016. There will be more “Months of Writing” in my life—and there might be some here as well.
This post is a part of the “A Month of Writing” series – a monthly report on my progress in the 365k Club challenge.
Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games.
Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English.
Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.