November is the marker of each year, known as National Novel Writing Month, even more as NaNoWriMo (and that’s the one of the few times when abbreviations are welcomed). In fact, the title itself is misrepresentative as NaNoWriMo is an international phenomenon embraced by thousands, discovered by many, and is the ultra-savvy- way to get those darn novels completed – or at least begun.
Little time causes a dilemma between other things in your life and transferring words out of your mind. However, too much time can create the same problem because we keep putting off the task.
“I’ll do it tomorrow for sure.” Of course you will.
“Once I get those chores out of the way, I’ll bash out another chapter.” And then you switch the television on to watch drivel.
Hey, I’m not preaching here, but I’ve done the same, until I found NaNoWriMo – ‘cue Gospel Choir lifting the airwaves’.
NaNoWriMo is a simple concept, Write 50,000 words during the Month of November. How you achieve this goal is your plan of action, but hit it you will and yes, you can. You don’t have to just aim for 50k – go higher if you can, and if you do miss out on the 50k by the end of November, then look back and be proud of the words you did put down. It all counts in the end. NaNoWriMo doesn’t have to be about a new first draft. It can be a redraft, an edit, or a tweak of an edit. Even finetuning words and pages are as good as writing for me. Do it, do it. Do!
Your words. Your choice.
For the last 4 years, I achieved my NaNo target, and each time it’s been a fist-punch into the air. To know that there are thousands taking part is like having your own mascot nearby pushing you to keep going. You’re not alone!
Usually, I aim for 8,000 words per week, and often I’m close to that, but the NaNo Target makes you focus. I didn’t have time to ponder, over-plan, or think about the correct word in each sentence, let alone if the sentence was needed, or that the chapter began and ended with a beat forcing the reader to continue. Heck no. The mission was to pump out words, and that’s all I required. I put aside my thinking to do the plain and simple thing: write.
Incorrect spelling, grammar, and every writing rule (formal or informal) can be corrected later. That’s why we redraft and edit. For now – I had to write.
My idea in 2015 came during a drive back from a meeting. It couldn’t come more basic than a human in space. Over the next few days, further characters formed, and I found myself researching space stations on the Internet. By Day 3, I’d planned the outline plot on an Excel Spreadsheet. Why am I telling you this, because Day 5 was November 1st, and that meant I could leap into the novel with oomph and motive.
Driving to and from work became episodes of self-reflection over the chapters, the direction of the plot, the need to deviate and to alter events. I didn’t go back and add/remove characters or redo a chapter – no – I kept writing. All the time, I wanted to reach the end.
It’s not a race, It’s not a contest. It’s all about self-achievement.
In the end, I did more than 50k. I knocked out 58k. And I didn’t stop. I kept the momentum burning in my thoughts, until hitting the end by 14th December with 82k for the first draft. Overall, that put me almost 2 months ahead of how long I envisaged it’d take to complete the novel.
I was ecstatic.
NaNoWriMo 2016 will see the same. A novel I wrote in 2010 is due a major update with a new plot, and because I know my characters so well, I will reinvent with gusto. This year will be the most difficult, as I have a new son, and he does eat into my writing time like my cats do into their treats. The challenge is to smuggle in as much writing time as I can, no matter how early or late, and if I only manage to hit 49,999 words by the end of November then so be it. Either way, it’ll be better than no words.
Go forth and be courageous.
As a veteran of writing festivals, Imran Siddiq loves spreading motivation and belief in writing. He juggles his fulltime career in the NHS and writing his novels. He’s self-published and uses his words to escape from reality.
Follow him on Twitter: @Flickimp