I am suddenly so excited for NaNoWriMo so I had to do this tag that was making the rounds on BookTube last year. It was created by Kristina Horner.
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and takes place every year in November. (Or Novel-ember. Geddit?) The idea is that, between 1st Nov and 30 Nov, you write 50,000 words of a novel, or whatever else you’re working on.
It sounds unfeasible, but it isn’t. The online community are a huge help and there are events set up in local areas to encourage people to get to that elusive 50K. I’d never written more than 5000 words of a novel before I started prepping for NaNoWriMo in 2012. It’s revolutionised my writing technique and I can write a lot more now, even if what I write is shit.
And that’s the thing – it doesn’t matter if what you’re writing is rubbish! The idea is to get to 5oK (or whatever your goal is – it’s a very flexible competition) so that you have a rough first draft which you can edit later.
And no, you don’t win anything, so you don’t have to follow the rules to the letter. If you like, you can use November to edit one of your preexisting works, or you could use it to encourage yourself to write a blog post every day, or a poem, or you could aim for 10-15,000 words and write a novella. Up to you!
1. How many times have you done NaNoWriMo?
I found out about the crazy world of NaNoWriMo in 2009 while at university, but I never did took part until I’d graduated. My first time was in 2012 and I was so full of adrenaline when I hit 50K that I’ve been doing it ever since.
2. How did you first find out about NaNoWriMo?
My uni shop sold a great writing magazine (called Writing Magazine) which I loved, and in the October issue they had an article in it all about NaNoWriMo. Once I’d disocvered it, I seemed to hear about it everywhere else.
3. What was the name of the first novel you attempted with NaNo?
It was called ‘Madison Cole: The Recovery’. It was supposed to be the first in a trilogy, but I’m not sure if I want to continue with it or condense the first one into a standalone novel. (Here’s part of the first chapter if you’re interested in reading it.)
Either way, it definitely needs a new title because that is bollocks.
4. Give us a 1 sentence summary of what you’re writing this year.
A more sophisticated version (hopefully!) of something Goosebumps-esque that I wrote when I was 10.
5. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?
All authors say, ‘Read, read, read!’ which I’m quite happy to do. However the best writing advice I’ve had isn’t really a creative writing thing; it was how I was taught to make my essays clear and concise in my Media Studies lessons at school. My teacher, Ms Paige, was a babe and she was also very clever and very good at succinct editing. She taught us to use as few words as possible to get our points across. I always try to channel her when editing my work.
6. Did you ever take a year off from NaNo? Why?
I nearly took this year off, actually, because I just wasn’t feeling it and I didn’t even start thinking about it until a couple of weeks ago (normally I’d start prepping in September).
However, I went to Cornwall last week on a sort-of writing retreat with my friend and it got the juices flowing again, so I’m excited to continue with my story in November. (I’ve written about 3000 words so far but will obviously start counting from 1st Nov).
7. What’s your biggest inspiration when figuring out what to write?
It normally just hits at the last minute to be honest, but I find just pondering it when I’m walking along or trying to get to sleep or whatever is my best bet because eventually something will happen. I don’t have anything I can cite as my inspiration really. Other books possibly? Often a certain author’s writing style will inspire me. (I always really want to write after reading One Day by David Nicholls as I love the way language is used in that book.)
8. Read us the first sentence from one of your novels.
Katharine Wilford pulled up her skirts to avoid salt-smelling puddles as golden mermaids preened at her feet.
(Yep, that’s the sort of crappy writing NaNoWriMo inspires. But that’s OK because you can edit it later! Although I never seem to get around to editing… hence why that sentence is still shit.)
9. Why do you love writing?
I loved writing as a child. I’d jump at the chance to write a story for class and my teachers always said they thought I’d be an author one day. (It went to my head a bit.)
Unfortunately I started to lose my love for writing in secondary school: I still wrote, but I only enjoyed writing fanfiction, which is fine but I was scared I would never be able to write original fiction again.
I then did English with Writing at uni, so had to write original fiction but I wasn’t enjoying writing much at all anymore. My passion came back when I left uni a little bit, but the last year or so I haven’t enjoyed it at all – until I went to Cornwall last week, that is! I discovered the beginnings of a story on my laptop and decided to have a go at updating it, and I really like it. I was already thinking about updating something I wrote in my childhood (back when I had the love for it) so I combined the two ideas and now I’m pumped for my story. Hopefully this November will bring back some of those feelings I had as a kid.
I don’t know who is doing NaNoWriMo in 2016 and who isn’t, so I tag anyone who is!
If you’re thinking about it, I really encourage you to give NaNoWriMo a go. If you’re like me and you struggle to finish novels, then it’s a great tool. I have still only finished 1 novel but I can at last say that I have finished one, and that was all down to NaNoWriMo.
It’s also really helped me feel like an actual writer again. So listen to Benedict Cumberbatch:
If you want to learn more about NaNoWriMo, click here to go to the official website.
Thanks for stopping by!