|Discovering new muscles!
1st November dawned bright and sunny. Okay it was as sunny as can be expected when you live in the centre of the universe (aka London) and on the days leading upto November, the weather was schizophrenic enough to drive the toughest stiff-upper-lipped-Brit to crack a wail or two! However I digress. 1/11/12 was a momentous day for me for it was going to be my very first time… in being part of the NaNoWriMo community. Fifty thousand words in thirty days? Go figure. Was that really going to be possible? As fellow writer Pavarti.K.Taylor patiently explained in her number crunching avatar… that was just (Just??!) 1666 words per day. Not a mountain of a feat… but not a molehill either, if you know what I mean. “Pfft! 1666 words? That’s nothing,” said my husband, the seasoned author – so there was no help coming from that quarter either. Yet what’s life if you didn’t live dangerously right? So, on 1/11/12 was up before the crack of dawn, actually managing to crawl out of bed for once without banging the alarm down to silent, and fuelled by many cups of coffee I kicked off this new stage of my journey. Seven days down and this is what I have learnt.
- NaNoWriMo is really just like BODYPUMP™. (for those of you who didn’t know, BODYPUMP™ is a resistance workout focusing on low weight loads and high repetition movements. Each class lasts an hour, and you alternate an intense work out of the bigger muscles of your legs/ back, with recovering while you work out the smaller muscles of your arms/ stomach all set to some cool rock & R ‘nB tracks which really sets the pace. Sounds painful? It is. But guess what? Over a period of time, it gets easier.
- Warm up first: Just like a normal workout, you need to warm those muscles first (ie. first cup, second cup of coffee, skim the headlines of the New York Times, The Times of India, The Guardian, set up spotify to relevant fastest electronic trance channel I can find… squirm around on seat, settle down)
- Upweight, upfront: Do the heavy lifting while you are fresh: This is where you work those thigh muscles baby with fifty squats in five minutes (grin & bear it!) Similarly I try to jump right in, plumb my sub-conscience and write those previous new words while my mind is still fully juiced up from a great night’s sleep. I try (no always succeeding) to not read what I wrote yesterday, but just writing the new stuff.
- Alternate: Just like you alternate the various sets of muscles, I prefer to do an intense ten minutes of writing, with a few minutes of FB/twitter/putting my head out of my window for a breath of icy cold gust of head-space-clearing London air.
- Don’t give up: You just have to will your body into making that final two of the fiftieth lunge of the set. Similarly I realised that I simply have to will my mind into writing those just-two-more sentences to take me over the one-hundred-and-sixty-sixth-word of the day.
- The outfit: Oh! It does help if you wear the right clothes (ie. Flashdance inspired leotard for BODYPUMP™. For writing I prefer my Peter Parker inspired nerdy look complete with spectacles, pyjamas, lanky hair, overflowing cups of coffee & sometimes even pretend that I am writing upside down suspended from the ceiling)
- The cool down: Finally just like the muscles need a cool down, so does the mind at the end of that day’s session. Some RT’ing, hootsuiting & FB’ing/ commenting never hurt.
- PS: At least for me it helps to have an audience (Nothing like a good looking man in class to keep your tummy in, butt out and eyes focussed on lifting heavier weights.) Yep, my beta readers (thank you Pooja Vir, Kriss Morton, Vidya H) are a great shot in the arm.
Guess what it does get easier. After a few days of doing it, I realised that what used to be seconds of concentration and single digit tally of words had increased to minutes and sentences. Yay!
What next? Well I do hope to reach the 50,000 words by November 30. And I’ve set myself a challenge. That of a twenty-four hour Writathon (with perhaps a youtube channel tracking my progress for the day.) Just to see how much I can push myself. “Naah! Not possible” says my practical side. “We’ll see!”
PS: Thanks Lynne Cantwell for spotting my thirty vs. thirty one days in november mistake!
About Laxmi Hariharan: I am a writer, technophile & dare I say, a futurist, with a penchant for chai and growing eye-catching flowers. It is in acknowledging my roots that I found my voice. My debut novel The Destiny of Shaitan is available on Amazon http://tiny.cc/szqsew
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