Of NaNoWriMo, A Baptism of Fire and Lessons Learned…

There can be no doubt that I have neglected my blog throughout the month of November. This has been due to a combination of factors, not least the fact that my lovely partner, David, was suddenly whisked into hospital, but it has been due mainly to the pressure associated with NaNoWriMo which some insane impulse made me enter for the first time this year.

Was I successful? Yes, I was. Will I do it again? Maybe. If I was to attempt it again, however, I am pretty sure it would have to be with the benefit of some prior thought and preparation. This time, I started with no more planning than the vague idea that writing 50,000 words in a month would be ‘good’ for me and I freely admit that I  found it hard to keep going, especially in the penultimate week.

The first week was ok. I admit that, as a ‘fiddler’, one who often finds it difficult to switch off her internal editor, I did not make as much progress as I would have liked. On the other hand, I had plenty of ideas and a fairly strong sense of direction. Week 2 was better in terms of getting the words down but my non-literary working commitments were greater so I found myself with significantly less writing time and, by the beginning of week three, I found myself entertaining thoughts about giving up the whole idea.

It was round about this point that David became ill and for three days I was so busy worrying I barely wrote a word. I sat and looked at the screen quite a bit but the number of words that accrued  was minimal and, by the time David came home from hospital, I was badly behind. After that, it all became a bit of a blur.

In Week 4, I don’t think I did anything very much except meet my commitments (in terms of work and family) and try to write. I finished eventually, at about eight o’clock on the evening of 30th November, just four hours before the deadline, but, if I am honest, the last three days were not much fun. I was extremely tired both from lack of sleep (I am not a good sleeper at the best of times and NaNoWriMo made matters worse) and because I had a late shift at work and a very long day on the Thursday.

As a matter of fact, that is the one thing I would say to anyone considering NaNoWriMo next year THINK about your work commitments over the entire month and maybe see what you can do to keep them to the minimum.  If I ever do it again, I will a) prepare more thoroughly b) try to schedule some holiday and c) eat more chocolate. This  last is obviously important because I have seen it mentioned in the posts and updates of many seasoned NaNoWrMoers. Perhaps, if I had discovered it sooner, I might ave had an easier time of it.

So, what now? Well, I have a substantial amount of material to work with over the coming weeks and, possibly, months. It may not, in the end, make a novel but I can see it being the source of several short stories. One of these, ‘Such Jolly Good Fun’, has already been awarded the position of runner up in 5minute Fiction’s Christmas Story Competition and another, ‘The Chow and The Widow Carlotti’, was published two days ago by The One Million Stories Creative Writing Project.

Also, since I have now demonstrated to myself that I have the capacity to write 50,000 words in a month if I really want to do so, it is possible that I may apply myself in a serious way to the task of writing a novel. I have always maintained that I would never do this on the grounds that there are too many ‘so-so’ novels out there already. On the other hand, as yet I am without a ‘project’ for the new year so you never know…


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