Tuesday, October 21, 2014

NaNoWriMo - Come and join me!


No surprises what I'm blogging about this month; that’s National Novel Writing Month to those unacquainted. Quite simply, the idea is to write a novel in the month of November. You join up via the website, set up a little profile, make some buddies if you like, and then write. Every day, or whenever you manage to get your fingers to the keyboard, you copy and paste the text into the verification box in your profile and the website tots up the word count. Then it makes these lovely colourful little graphs and tables and everything; plotting your progress, telling you which days were your most productive and so on.

It’s known as a global writing ‘contest’, but it isn’t. Not really. The only contest taking place is, writer vs a blank page; but in a light, fun and new approach to creative writing. The aim is to write 50k words or more and a lot of people taking part succeed. But at the same time, a lot don’t. No-one ‘wins’ and no-one ‘loses’. Simple as that.

Throughout the month, you receive encouraging emails and pep talks. The organisers cheer you on, they root for you. They want you to win. And if they can help you beat up the word demons that picnic in the middle of your path, they will.

Along with over 700,000 writers, I took part last year, my first time, and loved it. I was a quiet contestant, I buddied with only a handful of participants and approached the entire experience as exactly this, an experience. I’m the kind of writer who walks away, abandons the keyboard when the ideas won’t flow. I refuse to let myself get stressed. So Nano, for me, was a chance to see if I could force through writer’s block and smash through the odd plot barrier.

And after one month of some serious hard graft, I learnt that I could. OK, the manuscript was pretty shabby by the end of November, and there were quite a few ‘XXXX’ and ‘blah blah blah’ and ‘fill this in later’, plus my characters seemed to like shaking their heads and nodding, but my story was complete. 35k words on the page, smiling back at me. A novel, with a beginning, a middle and an end. How cool is that?

On top of this, all my Nano buddies succeeded, too. One didn’t finish her manuscript but she made some great progress. One took part to help her finish a WIP and managed it. And one wrote approximately 90k words! Different outcomes yet, at the same time, just one. Each one of us triumphed.

There’s more information on the website www.nanowrimo.org, including snazzy merchandise to purchase, and you should definitely follow them on Twitter @NaNoWriMo for up-to-date information and a chance to interact with fellow contestants via the hashtag.

My writing approach has now changed thanks to Nano. I’m delighted I took part and I plan to again this year. Other commitments might stand in my way of actually completing this next book, (although, in truth, it's more of a rewrite) but I’m not bothered. If I make it to the halfway point, or finish with plenty of holes in the manuscript, either way, progress will be made, and that’s all that counts.

If you’re not sure about whether to take part, then I nudge you to give it a go. You might decide after a week that you don’t want to continue, so don’t. But you never know. Next year, that book you write might be published! Good luck and see you on the other side.


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