A few of my readers here and over at A to Z Albums have noticed that I haven’t been posting as frequently in recent weeks so I thought I’d write a quick post to explain why!
This year I am taking part in NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. The aim of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel in a month, which breaks down to 1,667 words per day. Whilst it began in the US, NaNoWriMo is now a worldwide phenomenon which attracted 256,618 participants last November. It’s huge. And it’s the numbers involved that suddenly make writing a first draft of a novel in a month seem possible. A community of writers, from first-time novelists to published authors, emerges out of NaNoWriMo each year and offers incredible support to anyone struggling to meet their word count targets. Whether you choose to talk to like-minded writers on the forums or attend the meet-ups in cities and towns around the world, the support network is there if you want it. And the chances are, when you’re attempting to write a 50,000 word novel in a month, you’re going to need a pep talk every so often.
The beauty of NaNoWriMo is that it encourages so many people to finally make time to write the story that has been floating around in their head for months. For me, it has been a chance to sit down and prove to myself that I can make the time to write and that I can dare to be absolutely terrible at it. After all, every first draft of a novel is poor. That’s why months of editing follow. But NaNoWriMo teaches us to put our inner-editor away in a cupboard at the back of our mind somewhere, and to not let them out until December. The aim is simply to put words on the page which then gives you something to work on, edit and improve.
And I can say, eleven days into November, that it is working. Whilst I’m not currently on target to reach the 50,000 word goal, I have thousands of words of a novel written. A novel that has been a mere potential in my head for so long is finally becoming something tangible, and it feels great. It is, of course, nothing like I want it to be. Each day I feel like I am sinking to new lows with the quality of my writing, but I am finally learning to ignore those insecurities and to push on with it. By letting me be a terrible writer for a month, NaNoWriMo is letting me be a writer. Without the expectations of high quality writing, I suddenly dare to put pen to paper when I never did before. I am happy to let my imagination wander and for the plot to take unexpected turns. My characters can discover who they are as I write and I can discover what I am writing as I am writing. It’s incredibly liberating.
Finally, after many years of insecurities leading to abandoned first chapters, I am writing at length. And I love it.
“Lots of writers I know, we sit and we laugh about the incredible sucktitude of our first drafts, but you have to go there and you have to try things out.” – YA author, Maureen Johnson