The 30-Day Challenge #1: Write A Novel

ELLE's Debbie Black dedicates a month to writing a novel

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And so it began: a year's worth of 30 day challenges.

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I was potentially a little over ambitious… Starting off with 30 days of writing was particularly punchy. 500 words every day is a lot, especially when it's on top of a full-time job, triathlon training and a social life. (Even worse, I had to pull out of the triathlon two days before the event due to injury = typical.)

The first day was tough. I stared at the blank screen for hours not knowing where to start. I had already decided I was going to write a horror story (I love horror films – generally I have to watch them in my room on my own as not many of my friends are interested in watching them with me – so I thought I would have a good bank of horror knowledge to help me with my writing ideas). 

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My main idea was centred around what used to be my Grandpa's attic. There was a closet that had a door within it that led to a secret room (very The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe). It totally spooked me as a child, particularly when my cousin used to lock me in it and then come into the dark room with a torch on his face and his eyelids inside out. Thanks for that, Rory. 

I will admit that there were a couple of occasions at the beginning of the challenge where I literally fell asleep with my laptop on top of me in bed before I had finished my 500 words, but made up for it the following day by writing 1,000 instead. Some days I could literally bash out 600 words in twenty minutes, idea after idea coming naturally to me. Other days I would have written 50 words in the same length of time, my mind completely blank. 

I wrote on holiday, I wrote on my phone on the train, I wrote whenever I had a spare moment, which was generally into the small hours of the morning…

I got very frustrated at myself and at times, verging on being upset (mainly because I was so tired) and I kicked myself with my failures. But it did make me re-look at my upcoming challenges and decide that I am not going to try and push myself too, too much. 

Perhaps learning the guitar for an hour every day is too much - maybe I will instead aim to practice for between 30 minutes to an hour every day, and if it ends up being 15-20 minutes then that's OK, just keep it up every day. I have to think of why it is that I'm doing these challenges – it's meant to be fun, not a punishment. 

Despite finding the challenge incredibly hard, I am very proud of myself for doing it. I wrote 15,462 words of my first novel, which is a great start for when I want to pick it back up again and finish it, which I will.

 Next up: learn the guitar!

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