Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Nano carrots

“What the hell’s she talking about?” I hear you say. “That’s just a photo of a pile of books.”

Work with me here, people. You’ve heard the expression about the carrot being a better motivator than the stick. Well, I explained this one to the two eldest ducklings this month, along with a practical demonstration.

They both signed up for the Young Writers’ version of Nano again this year. In order to avoid a repeat of last year, where Demon Duck stopped writing after a week and I had to take 1500 words of dictation from her on the last day to get her over the finish line, I bought her a book she’s been begging for.

“This is your Nano carrot,” I said. “You don’t get to read it till you finish Nano.”

Hers is the Young Samurai novel, and she finished her 3,000 words before school this morning.

Drama Duck had no trouble finishing last year – she was done a week before the deadline. That suggested to me that her wordcount goal was too easy for her, and I wanted to encourage her to tackle a bigger project. Out came Nano carrot number two, the new Rick Riordan novel.

“If you make your goal 8,000 words instead of 5,000, you can have this book when you finish.”

And hey presto! She marched up the stairs last night, having finished her wordcount, and swiped the prize off the pile in triumph.

The third one, of course, is for me: Jackie French’s new novel Oracle. I read a good review of it in the papers a couple of weeks ago, and I’m looking forward to it. Adventures in ancient Greece are always fun.

And yes, I get to read my Nano carrot too. I put in a big effort yesterday, because I knew today would be crazy, wrote nearly 4,000 words and just scraped across the finish line. Thank goodness. It was a real struggle this year.

Just to add to the challenge, our computer guy arrived in the middle of the day yesterday and took over my computer for a couple of hours. Aaargh! What’s a girl to do when she’s thrown off her computer?

Why, go and sew something to relieve her feelings, of course.

I’m so in love with this bird fabric, this is the third thing I’ve made with it, and I’m not done yet. The whole of that particular range is so delicious I could eat it. (If, you know, I had one of those weird disorders where people eat stuff they’re not supposed to, like coal or chalk. I would eat only the most bright and beautiful of fabrics.)

Isn’t it gorgeous? I think this will be a pillow for my bed. Yum yum. Someone pass me a knife and fork.


  1. What a GREAT idea! And so literary - rewarding novel-writing with novel-reading. I love it. :-)

  2. Hi Caryn! Thanks for dropping by.

    As my dad used to say: "It's no use getting older if you don't get cunning too."

    It worked well for the girls, though I needed something stronger for motivation. As it turned out, the shame of quitting when I'd managed it three times already proved enough of a spur!

  3. Way to go with for all of you. I agree, carrots were a good idea. How about blogging exactly what Nano is about, I've read bits here and there, but never a description. Are you writing for submission or just for yourselves?

  4. Thanks Jo, sorry to ignore you for so long. Life got in the way there for a bit.

    Nano's just a personal challenge, no submitting or even monitoring of what you do. It's a fun way to motivate yourself to write, knowing that people all round the world are doing it at the same time, and you can share commiserations and encouragement on the forums.

    I'll give you more detail in a future post -- good idea!