Saturday, November 16, 2013

Nanowrimo mid-point update

Yesterday was the half-way point for the National Novel Writing Month, so it is a good time to check whether my novel is on track to be “finished” in time. I did make it a little past the half-way mark of 25,000 words, though without much room to spare.

It hasn’t been easy to write an average of at least 1667 words a day. Even though I had done a lot of historical research in advance, additional research has been necessary as I go along, and it takes a lot of time. But there have been several things I have done to make progress a little bit easier:

(1)    Before Nanowrimo started, I got familiar with the writing software and even wrote a “prequel” short story. The short story doesn’t apply to the word count of the novel, but it was helpful to get a sense of how long it takes me on average to write a thousand words and to figure out what times of day work best for writing.
(2)    I have made it a point to write at least something every single day. Even if I only write 500 or so words, that at least contributes more to the word count than a zero would. It also helps to keep the writing momentum going.
(3)    This one should be obvious, but a 500-word day must be offset by at least one day with a word count larger than 1667. Before Nano started, I thought I would write more on weekends and less during the work week. As it turns out, it can be hard to predict in advance which days will have relatively small or relatively big word counts. I can often get more written on weekends, but not always. Some days it is just easier to write more, especially if I’m working on a section where I don’t have much additional background research to do. I made a spreadsheet showing how many words total I need at the end of each day, and I just do my best to make sure I meet that target each and every day. One column shows the necessary daily progress to win in 30 days and another column shows the average daily totals needed to win in 28 days. I aim for the daily totals needed to finish in 28 days, and I make absolutely sure that I at least hit the daily totals needed to finish in 30 days.
(4)    I also established check points on a weekly basis to make sure I wrote at least 12,500 words the first week, 25,000 words total for the second week, etc. I set aside time in my schedule for a mini-marathon just before these check points to help me hit the weekly targets.

Now that we are just past the half-way point, I hope the worst is over and that it will be a little easier for the second half of Nanowrimo!

Thursday, October 31, 2013


National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) starts tomorrow, with a goal of writing 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November. I have signed up for the challenge; it is just what I need as encouragement to finally finish the historical fiction novel I began researching more than a year ago. The novel is set in early Anglo-Saxon times, and the protagonist is a healer - somewhere between a sorcerer and a leech (physician).

The box to the right above my profile will update the daily (or nearly daily) word counts as I post updates to the Nanowrimo site. Right now it shows zero because the starting date is November 1, but throughout November the word count should progress steadily towards 50,000!

A leech’s work for October

We can celebrate this last day of October by looking at a curious remedy included in the Old English Herbarium:

For a lunatic, take this wort, and wreathe it with a red thread about the mans swere (neck) when the moon is on the wane, in the month which is called April, in the early part of October, soon he will be healed. (Cockayne translation, Volume I, p 101, Chapter X of Old English Herbarium)

The plant to be used is batracion, which has been identified by D’Aronco as Ranunculus acer or R. bulbosus L.: buttercup, bulbous buttercup or upright meadow crowfoot.

Ranunculus acris (Ranunculus acer), by Alinja. Picture from the Wikipedia Commons.

Ranunculus bulbosus, by Kristian Peters. Picture from the Wikipedia Commons.

This suggested plant use for October appears to be an example of use of plants as amulets. Elsewhere in the Anglo-Saxon medical literature, there are references to binding other plants to the body with a red thread – see, for example, two of the treatments for headache in Leechbook III, ch i.