Starting a Writing Challenge

I’m currently in my office at the co-working space in San Juan with the ambiance of a storage unit, and coming down from the high of finishing (I think) fixing the last micro-bug in my latest algorithm code.  I worked over the weekend to fix errors, and there were so many more than I could have guessed.  I re-read the code I wrote so many times, and was getting into burnout territory, so having things working 99.9% (I can’t find any issues, but I’m still a little paranoid) now is like being handed chilled sparkling water after mowing the lawn on a summer day.


Besides begging and pleading with my computer to make my code work, I’ve been doing a good amount of brainstorming for the writing challenge that I’m doing with my sister.  Now that it seems like I’ve accepted the challenge (I gave myself the maximum amount of time to cancel before talking about it here), I will share details.


Katie, my sister, wrote me mentioning about doing Nation Novel Writing Month in November.  The goal for NanoWrimo is to start something new, and write at least 50,000 words that month.  I’ve tried it a few times in the past, never hitting that goal, but getting good stuff out of the pursuit.  The last time I tried though was such a miserable and pathetic failure of effort, but I guess it also taught me something?  I thought I had some semblance of pride, enough to get me to the half-way point or beyond as in the past, but I learned that I also have it in me to try a 30-day writing challenge and only write for about 3 days.


As I’ve mentioned over the past few weeks I’m achingly close to checking off a major project at the day job, and I wasn’t sure what a reward for myself could be.  When my sister messaged me about the writing challenge, I sheepishly said that I could see myself doing a scaled-down version of it.  Even though I’m “done” with my project, I still have a fair amount of ideas to test, and I don’t see myself running out of work in the indefinite future.  With that said, I agreed to an average of 5,000 words per week challenge. Hypothetically if I get bogged down at work I could cram and do 2,500 word sessions on the weekend, but that would feel kind of ridiculous.  I still am giving myself that mental option though, so maybe I shouldn’t hate on it too much before that becomes my default… 


By the end of November I expect to have at least 21,000 words written (we start Friday the 1st, so I pro-rated this week as 1,000 words).  It’s nothing crazy, nothing outlandish, but it’s 21,000 more words than I would write without this challenge (not including this blog, which is already one of the most challenging parts of my week).  I use a lot of creativity and brainpower for my trading research, but most of it is like creating/solving statistical puzzles, and doing brainstorming for my writing outline already has been fun to change things up.  


I’m not sure if I’ll finish what I write after the month (that sounds terrible, but it also helps me with my commitment phobia), but I’m hoping I can have as much fun with the real writing as I’ve had with the brainstorming so far.  The first time I wrote a 35,000 “book” (which was horrendous and unreadable, but it taught me what not to do) I remember writing and feeling bored while writing.  Not bored because I wanted to be doing something else at the time, but I remember having two characters talking with each other, nothing important was being said, and it wasn’t witty or even interesting.  I was thinking about how boring it was writing that section, and then realized it must be even worse for a reader.  Not that I have any writing accolades or accomplishments to rest on since then, but now I at least make an intention when writing to make it fun for myself (please don’t judge me because my blog bores you, let’s just pretend that my fiction writing is somehow magically much better).  So hopefully I’m making myself laugh/smile/cry as I write page after page of slop.  Who knows, maybe someday I can share it with you too.  


I know everyone wants to know what it’s going to be about (or not, but let’s say you’re being nice today).  I don’t like to give too much away, partially because then it feels like I don’t need to write it having explained it, but even more so because things will probably change.  The only thing I will say is that it takes place in the world of high-stakes poker, and if I can do my job, it’s going to be a bit dark and twisted.  


I need to get back to the coding and outlining as I’m in a bit of a sprint before Friday.  I’ll leave you with a few recommendations.


House Music (Jeff): AnjunaDeep Edition on Soundcloud.

I have a Spotify subscription, but I find myself using it far less often now with the great playlists on Soundcloud.  In particular house music, espeically the DJ sets like the ones from AnjunaDeep, are so much better than listening to individual tracks.   


Great Article (also from Jeff, what a good curator):

I loved the previous GQ interview with Brad Pitt as well, a very deep guy.


True Detective Seasons 1 and 3.  I just finished Season 3 last night, and although impossible to touch the brilliance from the first season (I also watched season 2 but it’s a pass), was still entertaining and thought-provoking.  


That’s it for this week.  Hopefully next week I’ll be knee-deep in fiction word count, and able to do dazzle you as my writing skills start to come back.  Here’s a recent pic from Condado Beach here in San Juan.




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