November is National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo to its regular participants. NaNoWriMo is a great idea. I joined the organisation in 2011 for my first time, and it was brilliant for me because I got the opportunity to write the sequel to my first Redcliffe novel. Up until that point I was distracted with the arrival of my first child, the upheaval of being a new parent, and the associated confusion and planning about whether or not I should return to work and how our family system should operate.
Anyway, I heard about NaNoWriMo and decided to give it a go. It is called a competition, but there are no financial prizes or rewards. It is free to join, free to attend, and all that is required is that you attempt to write 50,000 words during the month of November. 50,000 words in 30 days. Wow! It seemed like an impossible task, especially since I don’t usually find the time to write every day. In fact at the time I was lucky to write once a week. Now I realise its potential.
NaNoWriMo gave me the opportunity to test myself, and to learn that actually I can write every day when I put my mind to it. I didn’t have to stay up every night writing until the early hours (although I did on the occasions when my Muse took over), and my daughter was not neglected. I still managed to run a household and do all my usual chores and required tasks. Many people are in awe of my achievement. My fellow NaNoWriMo winners simply smile indulgently and we bask in our shared glory.
Some people might say it’s all well and good to write 50,000 words in 30 days, but where do you get your inspiration? For most natural writers, the words are already there just waiting to spill out. Once we set out a quiet time, a personal space, and an open invitation to our Muse, we can write a whole book within a short space of time. The good people at NaNoWriMo have set up forums and chat rooms where writers can encourage each other. We can share ideas, assist with queries, and generally offer support based on our individual experiences.
There are also regional groups that physically meet up in pubs and cafes, to swap updates and continue the push to succeed in the NaNoWriMo challenge. My local group meets in Chester, and while I was unable to make any of their meetings in 2011, I might have a little more freedom this year, depending on circumstances of course. It doesn’t matter either way, because the option is still there, and we are all connected via email and forums on the website.
Are you a NaNoWriMo winner? Have you participated in the past but not quite reached the golden 50,000 word challenge? Or have you never attempted it? I suggest you go for it. Try it out. Even if you don’t complete the challenge, you will end the month with a fresh new manuscript underway, and you will be in the practice of finding time to write. It might give you the push that you need to shut out all the other hundreds of daily distractions in life, and to write your masterpiece of a bestseller. If you want to know more, their website is http://www.nanowrimo.org/. See you at NaNo!