Autumn and Winter are simultaneously my favourite seasons, and the worst times of the year for me. In terms of mood, I always hit a low by the end of October, and I don’t usually manage to drag myself out of it until spring comes around. Fortunately for me however, November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it has come to be known. This year, despite the fact I have a million other things to do, I have decided to take on the NaNoWriMo challenge: write a novel of at least 50,000 words, in one month.
Yes, between midnight on the first of November and eleven fifty-nine on the thirtieth of that very same month, writers up and down the country will be scratching their heads, filling their notebooks, clacking away at their keyboards and going through more caffeine than the human body should reasonably be able to handle. They will also undoubtedly be yelling at their loved ones, pacing the house into the wee small hours, and finding themselves thinking of the perfect plot twist at the most inopportune moments – i.e. when there is no means of recording their brainwave in sight.
For those of you who write, you will know this is basically the life of a writer, however the intensity of NaNoWriMo, the time-scale, and the infectious enthusiasm it generates in a person, means that all the writerly quirks your friends and family claim to love but secretly dread will be magnified tenfold. There is also a social aspect to National Novel Writing Month, something which is very often lacking from writing, a vocation that is notoriously lonely. I have many writer friends also participating this year, and we will doubtless be keeping each other in the loop about our respective projects. We will also, I imagine, get a little competitive as the month wears on and we race to see who can write the most words.
It obviously goes without saying that anyone could write 50,000 words in a month. It’s not actually that difficult. You could do it in a day, in fact. The trick is putting them in the right order, and therein lies the rub, for the real challenge of NaNoWriMo is not only writing a novel in a month but writing a novel of which you can be proud in a month. It has to, for example, be comprised of full and coherent sentences. There are no prizes or awards, save a certificate stating you did indeed meet the word quota, the payoff is the book you produce. Because you see, while writers love to write, they actually love to procrastinate an awful lot more. They love to plot and plan down to the finest detail, but once they actually begin the process of getting down those prose, progress grinds to a halt.
Here is where NaNoWriMo really comes into its own, for it gets a person in the habit of writing on a daily basis. It doesn’t matter so much what they write, as long as they write something. You can fit it in on the train ride to work, in your lunch break, in the bath (no laptops please, good old fashioned paper is key here—tip, use pencil, steam doesn’t make it run), basically any time you have a spare five minutes. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your word count builds, when you are managing just a few hundred words a day. You’ll also be surprised at how easily you get into the swing of things, and how you become so much faster as the month progresses.
I have had a story knocking around my head for a while now. It’s an odd one, the kind I look at sideways while on a long drive and wonder if I should really put pen to paper for it. Until this week I hadn’t so much as written down the title, let alone any notes for it, although I had it pretty well plotted in my head. This is quite unlike me. I usually write down every passing idea I have in case I a) forget it or b) find a use for it. To not write it down at all told me there was something special about it, something different, something that made me want to keep it safe from prying eyes.
So, brace yourselves, as I present Twisted Sister, a dark tale spun around the rather aptly named Summer and Winter Liddell. I’ll be keeping you updated on my progress and should hopefully have a cover design finished in the near future. In the mean time, any of you who have ever thought ‘I really should write a novel’, now’s the time: November awaits!