National Novel Writing Month- drafting a (possibly unreadable) novel in 17 days.

Confession: It’s 11.37am and I haven’t showered or brushed my teeth yet, but I have just written 50,000 words in 17 days. They’re not good ones. No one will be allowed to read them in this state. At least 1000 are superfluous ‘ands’. Another 1000 are probably cliches. I change tenses and point of view mid-scene. And there are numerous sentences that only I will understand, and only while I still remember what I was thinking. Yes, it’s National Novel Writing Month.

“Nanowrimo” hits all my buttons: the idea of a big writing push alongside other people doing the same thing; a specific time of the year to do it; and the stats.

Next year, I hope to find other people to do it in Bournemouth with me. We’ll meet in coffee shops to write and keep each other going. But this year my chief motivation has been the stats page. A blue bar turns green when you’ve hit your target word count for the day, and a chart shows your progress. Once I was slightly ahead, I didn’t want my daily average to drop. Then I could see I wasn’t that far behind reaching the next 1000. From there, I felt I might as well hit the next day’s count as well. And so on. Thus, I finished far sooner than I was expecting.


It helped that I was up to date with ‘proper work’. And that, having felt completely uninspired fiction-wise for a year or more, this October, I started to feel broody for a novel.

It’s a very specific type of broodiness. Like a baby, you’re looking at a long term commitment- anything upward of a year. The draft I’ve produced is just a start, but now I have something to work with. I’m no longer looking at a blank sheet of paper.

And as when pregnant, I felt entitled to special treatment. It seemed entirely legitimate to “do a Churchill” and write in bed this month. Instead of eating more than I should and feeling guilty, I simply ate more than I should and left it at that.

I have a revision plan, but I’m going to leave my work of art to rest for a month or so and come back to it with fresh eyes in January.  Meanwhile, I’m going to have a shower and brush my teeth.







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