Thursday, 1 November 2018

NaNoWriMo 2018?

November is upon us, guys. The nights are drawing in and there’s definitely a winter chill lingering in the air. My sister asked me earlier today what I wanted for Christmas and I’ve not mentally prepared myself to even think about Christmas just yet. One month at a time, please. Where November may mean pre-Christmas hype for some, for the writers among you it might mean just one thing: NaNoWriMo.

I’ve taken part in the online creative writing project that is National Novel Writing Month for the past two years and I can really see the merits of signing up to the challenge. Writing 50,000 words of a novel may seem impossible, and trust me some days it’s not without difficulty, but it is doable if you set your mind to it. It’s helped me write the vast majority of the book I’ve been working on for the past couple of years and if it wasn’t for NaNoWriMo I’m so sure if I would have had the confidence to write what I have.

Like many of us out there, I’ve dreamed of writing a book it being published one day but in the back of my mind I always felt silly for trying. Whenever I put words on the page I’d cringe at my own writing and question everything about my idea – is it good enough? Does the story make sense? Due to this constant over thinking I could never make it beyond the first couple of chapters because I was obsessed with trying to perfect everything. My inner editor was stopping me from moving forward. So in the autumn of 2016 I decided to challenge myself and signed up to NaNoWriMo to help me get my story off the ground and actually get words down rather than editing what I had already written.

And – it worked. That year I managed to hit my goal and wrote 50,000 words in a single month. It took a lot of hard work and my entire November was spent doing little else other than writing, but it stopped me from overthinking everything about my idea and to just write. It was surprising how the story flowed once I actually started typing and it was encouraging to know that whilst I what I was writing wasn’t perfect, it was progress. First drafts aren’t meant to be good. NaNoWriMo encouraged me to keep writing instead of trying to perfect it.

Two years down the line and I’m still working on the same novel. It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and written anything new and in those empty months of not putting words down on paper I’ve fallen out of a routine. NaNoWriMo sounds like the perfect time to start up again, right? So, this November I’m going to get back to my story again, only this time I’m going to use NaNoWriMo as a bit of gentle motivation as opposed to a challenge. I’m not aiming to write 50,000 words, I simply want to start working on my book again whether that means I write 1,000 words or 10,000. As long as I write something I’ll be happy.

The reason I’m not completely committing myself to NaNoWriMo this year is because I know I won’t have the time to throw myself in to the project as I did previous years. My job starts to get super busy around the build up to Christmas and last year I really struggled to keep up with the word count, so I don’t want to stress myself out. Mental health always comes first. I want it to be a fun experience so I’m doing a mini version of my own that I know I can reasonably achieve. As long as you’re writing, well, that’s what National Novel Writing Month is all about isn’t it?

If you’re looking to finally getting that idea down that’s been swimming around in your brain, I think NaNoWriMo is a great kick-starter. It shows you the amount you can achieve in a single month if you knuckle down and just write – don’t question yourself, don’t edit - and by the end you’ll feel amazing. Whether you’ve written 50,000 words or 5,000 words, it’s more than what you started off with and I think any achievement, however small, is worth being proud of.

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