NaNoWriMo, what the hell’s that? 

Good question.

Every time I hear it, I think Mork and Mindy are going to make an appearance. Say it three times, and strange things might happen, Beetlejuice style.

But, it’s a real thing. If you are at all interested in writing then it may be for you, although this year might be a little too late. Sorry.

Let me tell you about NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. It’s an American thing, but seems to have got quite some traction this side of the Atlantic. You can find them here:

However, I’ve come to it through the good people at Thanet Writers, who are supporting it through a series of workshops. Find them by searching for NaNoWriMo Write-Ins on Facebook.

The idea is very simple. Write a minimum of 50,000 new words towards a novel over the course of November. Fifty-thousand unedited, original words. Any genre. You can prepare in advance by creating plot lines, character sketches, etc. But, you aren’t allowed to draft a single word before 1st November.

When you do start writing the ‘no edit’ part is important. This is all about blasting that first draft down, drawn from your creative brain, unconstrained by that nasty, time-absorbing analytic side of your brain that, if you are anything like me, seeks to ambush you at every turn. It’s doing it now. I have an almost irrepressible urge to go back and check my last couple of chapters.

No – arghhhhh. Get thee behind me, left brain.

Fifty-thousand words in thirty days. But I like weekends off to be with the family and recharge. So, that means I have to do it in twenty-two days. I have to average 2,272 words a day. That’s a lot for me. I’m usually happy if I get 1,500 down. When I started writing, it was more like 500.

The good news is, I’m finding it very motivational. I’ve forsworn editing and re-drafting sections and yes, I’m just blasting it down. As of the 14th November, that’s day ten of twenty-two, I’m just over 24k in – which works out at about 2,400 per day – just over the required daily target. But, I’m picking up speed as I get into the guts of the thing and, if I keep up my current rate, I’m going to hit more than 60k. Which, hopefully, will be a complete start to end first draft. If I can manage that, I will be very pleased.

It has literally (!) glued me to my desk. I’m obsessed with the challenge. A couple of days in the last week, I’ve hit 4k words. That seems to me to be a ‘proper’ rate for a full-time writer after seven hours at my desk.

Just checking: have you hit your daily word count yet?

I’ve eschewed all distractions, apart from the cat who comes to visit me twice daily, to check on my progress. I’m out of the gym and at my desk for 9am. I work until 12pm and break for half an hour or so. Then I’m back typing until 5 or 6pm – depending on where a natural break falls in the plot.

Today, I ran out of steam at 3pm; so, I’ve diverted myself with this blog, which, my To Do list tells me, I’m due to do. But, I’ve managed about 3,200 today, so I’m happy.

I’m excited by the developing story, and I think it’s moving at a pace. Hopefully, when I come to my first edit, it won’t be complete gibberish!

Just one final thought on this. I’m doing this full-time. I know a number of people who are doing this in their spare time, after a hard day at work, or looking after the family. Respect!

By way of an update, I’m delighted to say that Ham, Eggs and chips was rejected by my first-choice short story publisher (who will, naturally, remain nameless). Why delighted? Because a) I actually made the effort and got it submitted and b) it’s one less before they DO accept something from me.

However, I have heard that I’m to be published in Yellow, the Creative Inspirations group anthology. It’s being launched on 24th November at the Old Kent Market, in Margate, opposite the Turner Centre. It’s an anthology for local writers. If you can, please support it by popping along and buying a copy.

I’m also delighted to say I got wind that Thanet Writers are publishing The Diary of Jane Pugin on the 26th. It’s a short horror story set in Victorian Ramsgate and my fourth ThWri have been kind enough to unleash on the world. 

Finally, I want to plug Fika Lounge.

FL is a new online book shop and coffee store (combining two of my favourite things!) located in Thanet. It’s run by a lovely couple – Martin and Hannah – who I had the pleasure of meeting last week. They’re interested in promoting and profiling local writers (ie Thanet / Kent based) and would love to hear from authors who have something to say or sell. Please contact them through their website contact form.



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