Friday, 1 November 2013

National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo is, as described by themselves, "Thirty days of literary abandon," in the month of November. How jolly! Three years ago I found myself sitting in a rather draughty room in Cambridge, England, twiddling my thumbs, as it were. Having just moved to a new city in a new country, been unsuccessful in the general slog that is a job hunt, and read all the books I'd brought with me, I did the best thing I could do: listen to my mother.

Having sent me the link ages ago, she encouraged me to start writing a novel. Please, take it from me - always listen to your mother. I signed up (free) about a month before it kicked off and started researching frantically. Writers always have ideas stockpiled, laying forgotten in the back recesses of our brains, and after a summer of short stories, it was time for the real deal.

Now, how can one write a novel in a month? I hear you ask. Well, as the creators of the challenge said..."literary abandon." It does require a good deal of self discipline. Writing an average of 1,500 - 2,000 words a day will you get you to the minimum 50,000 word threshold. (Which, as any University student can tell you, is easy as pie - you can knock out1,500 words and still make it down to the pub of an evening.) It doesn't matter if it is rubbish - you're writing and that is the important thing. What else is December good for?  Editing and reworking of course! (Christmas is so overrated - editing is much more productive, in my biased opinion...).

Anyway, you don't need me to convince you, the chaps over at NaNoWriMo will do that (really, they are most encouraging). You can write a novel or a screen play, or even a collection of short stories. It is up to you. We all have busy lives, of course, and the idea of writing a novel seems daunting, naturally. But who doesn't love a creative challenge?

The novel I wrote three years ago was about a detective in WWII England in Cambridgeshire - I had so much fun writing it, not least of all because all the research was right at my fingertips. It was a great way to learn more about my new adopted hometown as well. Plus, as many of you will know, I'm slightly obsessed by all things WWII, especially the Home Front. Two friends very kindly read it once the new year came around, and then it sat in folder on my computer for three years. Last month I put aside my reservations and sent it off to a publisher, where it is no doubt now collecting dust.

Currently, I am writing a second novel (continuing the story of the Detective). I enjoy the challenge that writing a long story brings - developing characters and their unique voices, being pedantic about historical accuracies, creating a setting and developing plot lines, and so on.

So, if you feel like taking the plunge and setting yourself a creative challenge, join NaNoWriMo and enjoy the process. You might well surprise yourself. And hey, even if you don't listen to your own mother, listen to mine: write a novel this November!