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This Writing Life: Here Comes NaNoWriMo!

31 October, 2014

It’s been, amazingly, a full month since I last posted on the blog. October seems to have been the month that got away: I’ve been busy with day-job stuff, more home improvements, writing, gaming and even spending time with friends. Not much opportunity for blogging, in other words! It hasn’t escaped my notice, though, that with October nearly over, November is upon us – which means only one thing. NaNoWriMo!

In my last post, I mentioned I was thinking of taking part in NaNoWriMo this year, for the third time. Since then, I’ve been um-ing and ah-ing over whether that’s really a good idea. I could certainly do with getting 50k words of a new novel down, but I’m also insanely busy. Maybe, I kept thinking, I should stick to a smaller daily word count. Maybe I’m just too busy for NaNo this year.

And then I realised that perhaps I could do with the challenge. I’ve managed around 150k words this year, which isn’t bad, but I don’t really feel like I’ve pushed myself as much as I could have. Additionally, my previous two attempts at NaNoWriMo were both successful, but under pretty relaxed circumstances. In both cases, I had plenty of time, and that 1667 words a day target wasn’t particularly onerous. This year… I have a feeling that won’t be the case.

But isn’t that the whole point of NaNoWriMo? Pushing yourself to write more than usual whilst life carries on around you – the day job, the kids, the family, your hobbies (I don’t think it’s a coincidence that NaNo takes place in November, either, which carries the twin pressures of Thanksgiving and being close to Christmas for the US). It’s when you’re pretty sure you don’t have time to write that NaNoWriMo is so valuable, providing an incentive and a network of support to push you to greater lengths of productivity.

In the past, 50k words in a month was no great challenge for me. This year, I think it’s going to be a monumental struggle – and that’s exactly why I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo. There’s every chance this’ll be the first year I don’t ‘win’, but writing anything at all will be a victory this year. Who’s with me?!

  1. 2 November, 2014 9:29 pm

    Evening Amy. Re: NaNo. I pulled a new idea out 4 days ago and now, after 2 days and only 1900 words I have serious reservations about it, especially with no hint of planning.

    However, looking back through some old stuff, I found the beginnings of a story which I wrote a few years ago. Reading it now, these beginnings require a re-write, there is stuff here that really sucks. Acceptable compromise for NaNo? What’s your view?

    • 3 November, 2014 8:54 am

      Hi Christopher. It’s great to hear from other people doing NaNoWriMo this year! I’ve been in exactly the same position as you in previous years: I essentially developed a new story in the last few days of October and then proceeded to write it. If I tell you I haven’t been back to either of those stories since, not even for a single re-read, does that tell you how I felt about them afterwards?!

      I know, strictly speaking, a NaNo novel is supposed to be completely new and started on the 1st of November, but I also think NaNoWriMo has expanded a lot since its early days. A lot of writers seem to be using it to complete half-finished works, and plenty now incorporate editing into their month. I suppose NaNo really has to be seen as a tool – anything that gets you writing more, and faster, is a good thing, whether you’re following the ‘rules’ or not.

      And I know this is going to sound really cheesy, but you’ve really just got to write what you feel passionate about. I tend to develop novel ideas until I can’t NOT write them, because I’m so excited about the ideas and characters. I felt that way about this year’s NaNo novel – if I hadn’t, I don’t think I’d be taking part.

      Heh, this turned into a ridiculously long comment, but I hope it helps!

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