If you have no clue what I’m talking about and wondering What is NaNoWriMo? Then here’s a quick answer: it’s short for National Novel Writing Month. In November writers all round the world get their pens and keyboards at the ready and try to write 50,000 words. There’s a website for support and to help track your word count, and little groups get together in real life for writing sessions. Now that November is approaching fast, I’m wondering if I should get with the programme….
I actually completed the challenge two years ago for an alternative history fantasy novel. I was really chuffed with myself and over the following year I carried on and finished the first draft and properly sketched out my characters. In November last year I attempted to edit and type up what I’d done, but failed miserably. Life and work just got in the way, and this has more-or-less continued and my novel and all its notebooks have not been looked at much at all recently. This seems a shame as I’m really happy with what I’ve done so far and I’d love to have a finished book I can start sending off to agents and publishers.
I’m going to Blogfest in November where people might have the chance to pitch a book to Sam Eades from Orion. It’s an opportunity too good to pass up, so by then I need to at least have polished up my first three chapters and synopsis and be prepared in case they’re interested. So I’ve more-or-less decided to not really do NaNoWriMo properly, but sort- of be with it in spirit! I’m determined to have it completely typed up by the end of the month again. It’s a good time for me because all the Halloween costumes that keep me busy in autumn are now over with, and there’s often a lull in the Oshun business until spring.
If you’re thinking about having a go, then I would really recommend it, even if you’re not at all prepared. I started it as a complete spur of the moment decision with nothing but a main character and a vague plot idea in my head. It took me a week to get into it properly – just continuous writing with no self-editing at all. Then I got into the flow of it and I was well away! There’s a good writers’ saying that, You can’t edit a blank page. It’s true – you’re better off writing three pages of crap; even if you know it’s a load of crap, because the spark will come and on the fourth page you’ll suddenly see where the twist in the plot will go; how the conversation will be relevant to something later; or what will happen to the character you weren’t quite sure about.
There’s no doubt it’s a difficult challenge – it took me about three hours a day to keep up. Five or six at the beginning before I got the hang of it. So other things will suffer – your social life, for example; or the amount of time you spend on your blog! However, I think the reward of getting a first draft of a novel complete makes it worth it. It’s been more difficult since to actually get the book finished. When you work full time or have other commitments, it’s easy to feel guilty when you make time to write a novel (well it is for me anyway), but when you’re given this reason to do it, then it’s like being given permission.
Do let me know how you get on if you decide to go for it.
You may also be interested in this blog post when I finished NaNoWriMo two years ago.