NaNoWriMo and Me

I use purple pen a lot because there was a box of purple pens on sale.

NaNoWriMo is awesome. For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. Every November, people sign up to write 50,000 words in thirty days. In the run up to NaNoWriMo, writers can plan their ideas, organise their time and sign up to the site. The site for National Novel Writing Month is here and it’s amazing.

If you have ever wanted to write, this is a great chance. You have a fixed date, you have a structure of sorts and, if you sign up with the site, you have a wonderful, supportive place to go to. There are local meet-ups, online chats, Facebook and Twitter groups – all focused on the goal of writing 50,000 words in November and getting that novel out. They have badges! What is more, those badges encourage you to go further and write more.

The rules are quite simple. You start something new, you write the first draft and just get it out there. This is the first draft. You worry about punctuation, grammar, consistency and detail after 30th November. Then you can go back and tidy things up. After that amazing, exhausting and exhilarating start, before you know it, you have a novel.

I fail at NaNoWriMo. Part of the problem is that I was born to be contrary. If you tell me to go right then, no matter how much I want to be agreeable and helpful and conforming, I end up going left. It’s like the Fates hear me make a decision and snigger. And it’s absolutely not deliberate.

Last time I tried to do NaNoWriMo, I did something awful to my left shoulder and couldn’t move it for a fortnight. The time before that, my son, who was tiny then (I have avoided this for years), was really poorly for a few weeks. I think it was the year before that I had suspected heart failure (I’m fine). I’m not doing NaNoWriMo. Bad things happen. Besides, I have three novels started, each with over 20,000 words already, plus I’m working on a few collections of stories, so I cannot possibly justify starting something else. November is ‘tidy up the damned laptop and get the dratted things finished’ month for me.

I’m happy to encourage anyone else to go for it! Sitting down to write 50,000 words in a month is like being poised at the start of the roller coaster, just before you drop down the first incline. But making it official helps most people concentrate and push to finally write the story they had always wanted to write. And while you are wrestling with those words, you can encourage and be encouraged by the lovely people who are taking that crazy journey with you. You can keep going with people who understand the struggle to fit the writing around work and family. You will be keeping step with those who wonder whether it’s safe to make the hero blond instead of dark, whether the heroine drinks tea or coffee and how the heck to spell ‘surreptitious’.

If you have ever wanted to write, now is a great time to warn the family, set up a good writing space and plan your work. If you feel like a little research, I wrote an overview for the lovely Eric Lahti here and a series on research for Three Furies Press which starts here. Or, if you are like me, you can watch the clock tick down to the start of November and plunge straight in.

Go for it – and good luck!

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