Fiction · Writing

NaNoWriMo and Me

I shouldn’t be doing this – writing a blog post, that is – I should be ramping up my floundering word count for this year’s NaNoWriMo attempt.

In case you don’t know NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it’s a challenge for writers to get an entire first draft of a new novel complete, up to 50,000 words, in one month – November.Sounds easy, right? It’s not! It took two previous NaNo attempts for me to complete the first draft of my first book She-Wolf and I was still working on it throughout that year. (Shh, don’t tell anyone I cheated)

I have spent so long editing that book that, this year, I have decided to do something completely new and different for NaNoWriMo. I’ve started developing an idea I had been toying with for a while now and it appears to be turning into a suspense thriller, of some sort – something I never thought I’d write. In fact, I had dug myself so deep into an over-editing hole with my first book and was beginning to equate the process to a form a torture that writing this new book, for NaNoWriMo, has reminded me just how much I love to write.

That’s the joy of this challenge though is, with such a high word count required in such a brief amount of time, it makes you do something a surprisingly substantial number of writers struggle to do – write!

There is no time to edit as you go – which can ultimately stop the creative juices mid-flow, no time to listen to that horrible inner critic telling you that it’s all an awful idea and wondering why you phrased your sentence that way, was it to show people beyond a doubt that you’re verging on illiterate? – Yes, my inner critic is a sadistic ass.

NaNoWriMo essentially gives you permission; permission to write badly, permission to make spelling and grammatical errors with abandon, permission to spill your words onto the page with the sole purpose of getting the idea out and the story told – and that’s why I love it.

Yes, you could, of course, do that any month of the year, whenever you wanted to, but it’s nice and sometimes necessary to have a community of other writers, in the same boat, offering support and motivation to keep going, keep writing – especially when your daily word counts are suffering thanks to, you know, kids and life and stuff.

The only advice I can give to anyone doing NaNoWriMo is KEEP GOING. It doesn’t matter, in the end, if you don’t reach the 50,000-word target. If you get there with 35,000 words, 10,000 words, or 2,000 words that’s a whole chunk of writing you didn’t have before you started. Suck it up and keep going!

You might even surprise yourself and bang out 5,000 words some day when the kids spontaneously and miraculously fall asleep – at the same time – in the car and you have an unexpected free slot open up for writing time… or you could use that time to write a blog post about how you should have used that time… oops!

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