Travis was bored. There was still some twenty minutes left for the metro to reach his destination. And looking out of the window at the buildings outside does tend to get boring after a while. Fortunately, the compartment was not too crowded, and so he was able to position himself comfortably in close proximity of the overhead air conditioner vent.
"Oh well." he thought to himself, "That's what smartphones are for." And so he pulled out his phone to find some means to relieve his boredom. This however, proved to be slightly more difficult than expected.
For starters, the charge on his phone was at twelve percent. A sticky notification at the top of the screen informed him that power saver mode was active. So the battery probably would not die before he reached home. But if he were to play a game now, then there was a chance that he might deplete the battery, something he was not keen on (his parents sometimes called right around the time he got off the train). Similarly, other alternatives, like watching movies was also out of the question.
That left only two other options. One, listening to music, which he was already doing, and two, doing some light reading. Since the first option was not helping (to say the truth, it was making him feel sleepy), and there were no new podcasts to listen to, he decided to go with the second option.
Now again, the question of what should he actually read presented itself. Should he read an eBook? Or should he aimlessly browse the web in search of some random interesting article? Or should he give the Medium app a try?
That app had been suggested to him by the app store's recommendation engine. It was the official app of the online publishing platform medium.com, where people published all sorts of articles, with subjects ranging from technology to fiction. The platform recommend articles to users based on their popularity and the user's reading preferences. After opening the app, the first article in his feed caught his eye.
"NaNoWriMo's Coming", ran the title. Curious to understand what it really meant, Travis started reading it. The article was mainly about the author's experiences during previous year's NaNoWriMo along with some thoughts about the story was he planning to write this year. In the opening paragraph, there were also a couple of lines mentioning the goal of NaNoWriMo, which was an annual contest where participants have to write a fifty thousand word novel in the month of November. Below the articles, there were also a few enthusiastic comments from would-be participants.
Immediately after reaching home and finishing his dinner, Travis fired up his personal computer and opened the NaNoWriMo website. The concept of a worldwide novel writing concept fascinated him. After a few minutes of browsing, he had all the information he needed. In addition to the article he had read, he also found a few others where people had shared their NaNoWriMo experiences. Some liked it, some hated it, but most of them agreed that it was life-changing in some way or the other. Many ended up making new friends during the competition, while some ended up learning or developing their writing skills, or just how to do efficient time management. This probably explained why such a large number of people signed up for the contest every year. And these reasons, he reflected, were sufficient to him to enrol and give it a try.
Ever since he was young, he always wanted to write. But earlier, studies and career had taken priority. Now that those were done with and he had a steady job, he had started utilising his spare time to pursue his hobbies and interests. Earlier this year, he had created an account on one of those up and coming social collaboration platforms for writers, where he would occasionally take part in some of the contests that were organised there. He had started writing a novel over there as well, but never had felt motivated enough to continue them, partly due to the low number of reads they had got and partly because he was unsure about how to progress the story (probably this is why the phrase "Well begun is half done" exists).
But NaNoWriMo was a different altogether. There was a time limit here, which meant he had to complete it inside of a month in order to earn that winner's badge. Also, participants were free to chose any theme, any genre they liked, which meant he could pick up a theme he was comfortable writing about. The only requirement was that they had to host their story elsewhere, and then submit the text of the final version to the NaNoWriMo website towards the end of the month only for calculating the word count. This was not a major concern, as he could publish it on the site where his other half-finished works were. It's very much like one of those story writing competitions we used to have in school, he thought.
Which was good, for Travis found that he was able to get things done proactively if they had a deadline attached to them. Because there were no deadlines attached to his earlier literary works, he had ended up relegating the task of writing the next issue to some later date, and in the end had abandoned it altogether because he had completely lost touch with what he had written so far.
But that would not be the case here. The time limit of one month was bound to keep him focused on completing the novel. However, the high word count implied that his time management as well as linguistic abilities were going to be put to the test. He felt he would be able to create time for writing, but the other part, he was not so sure.
For Travis was a man of few words. He always spoke to the point, and this trait was also dominant in his writing style. Being a software developer by profession, his reticence had caused little or no problems in his professional life. True, there were a few occasions now and then, most of them being training sessions for junior developers. But these he could manage, as due to his strong grasp of the concepts, he could explain them easily without the need for being overly verbose. Reaching fifty thousand words might need a change in that style, as there would be cases where, how should he put it, sentence restructuring was required. What that really meant was fiddling around with sentence till the maximum possible number of words was obtained without changing the meaning. One such example of this which came to his mind at that moment was that of replacing one word by an equivalent phrase, for example, using 'last seen' instead of 'spotted'. He would probably need to do a lot of those. Well, now that he thought about it, there were those times when he struggled to fill two pages in client proposals with the technical details of the project they were going to implement. These "sentence stretching" techniques sure would come handy in those situations.
Having satisfied himself thus that participating in NaNoWriMo was a win-win situation, Travis spent the next few minutes creating his account on the NaNoWriMo website, so that his decision was somewhat "official". Then he turned to the other main activity which he had to give some thought to, which was coming up with a plan of action.
First and foremost, he needed a theme on which his story would be based. Then he needed to have at least a rough plot or idea which his novel would be based on, so that he can decide the number of chapters to break it into. And most importantly, he needed to find a way find enough time to work on the novel. And last but not the least, he needed to make a note of the main points, so that he did not lose track of what needed to be done.
Arming himself with a pen and a notepad, Travis began to make a rough plan. "It is the thirteenth of October today. I guess I should be able to come up with a story by twenty fifth", ran his thoughts. He mentally evaluated the deadline once again, and feeling confident that two weeks was sufficient, entered twenty eight of October as the deadline to finalise the plot. The next thing was to register the story on the NaNoWriMo website, and for this he set the deadline as the thirty first of October. He tentatively decided to spend at least two hours on week days, and maximum possible time (at least eight hours per day) on weekends. The idea here was that the weekends were to act as a buffer, so that he could make up for the weekdays where he was unable to devote sufficient time to writing. On similar lines, he set twenty fifth of November as the date by which he should complete his novel. This was so that the could use the following weekend to proof read and make any last minute changes before uploading to to the NaNoWriMo website. The question of 'What chapters to complete by what date?' depended on the story, and so this he decided to revisit once the story was final.
The next point was the most important. How was he going to come up with a story for his novel, inside of two weeks? Sure, he had some rough ideas in his head, but he needed some time to explore them, not to mention sources of inspiration. Now how was he going to get those? He would probably need to resort to the bus number 11.1522Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡHtPTS1SB2N
Yes, it was no joke. Walking helped him clear his mind. On many occasions, when he was bugged by any particularly obtuse coding problem at work, thinking about it while walking home from the metro station (or vice versa) had brought him closer to its solution. There was no harm in trying that approach here as well.
Feeling satisfied that he had a good enough plan, Travis closed the pen and notepad and put them on the table. It was already well past midnight. "Time to call it a day.", he thought to himself. Quickly he changed into his night dress, made sure that the alarm was set for half past six, switched off his computer and lights, and climbed into bed.ns 18.104.22.168da2