What NaNoWriMo 2013 Taught Me

It’s the last day of November which means it is finally time for me to have a day to not really do a whole lot. Unfortunately in my world these kind of days do not exist. I don’t know how to not do anything. It makes me anxious. On this day of not doing a lot I have recorded five songs, written two articles and started work on a Christmas project that I cannot yet detail. I have also tidied my room for the first time in a month, made myself dinner and booked a table for lunch tomorrow.

That is all a complete aside to the actual subject. This year I decided that writing one 50,000 word novel was not enough of a challenge and so when I finished on 17 November I decided I probably had time to get another one done. Rather than taking the time to do some much needed editing I hit the MacBook again, turning from the travel diary of my first project to a fantasy adventure that in my head is the first of three books I have been planning to write for ten years. In a way this made it easier because I should have most of the groundwork down after ten years of thinking about it. The story in fact changed completely as I wrote it. Rather than being my usual ten chapter book from one character’s perspective I realised it became much more interesting to both read and to write if it covered off the way different people looked at the events that were unfolding. I don’t want to provide too much detail in case anyone else ever reads it but essentially this meant creating entirely new characters and scenarios around the basis of what I had. It was fun to do, and it meant I didn’t get bored of one character. I could essentially abandon ship on anyone who got boring for me. That’s point one of what NaNoWriMo 2013 taught me; there is always room for other characters.

I managed to do a lot of my writing during my daily commute. It turns out that people on the Southend Victoria to London Liverpool Street line are not fans of writers. I base this on the loud tutting I often got when I sat with my laptop and tried to create something instead of formlessly refreshing my Facebook feed like everyone around me seemed to be doing. It turns out that without the Internet as a distraction writing is an awful lot easier, or at least the periods of my travel were my most productive. As soon as I was home there were far too many distractions. I found myself taking train journeys just so I could write for longer. So point two is an inability to Internet is very beneficial.

I have also found that after a while people don’t want to hear about what you are doing. I always try not to be one of those terribly self involved and cliched writers who tell everyone about their protagonist’s struggle against blah blah blah. I would tell people my word count when they asked and I updated a few too many milestones along the way but it was for my benefit. It’s my record of my achievement. When I finished my first novel, in June 2012, people were amazed and supportive. Now it is old hat. They know I can do it, the challenge has weakened. It’s expected that I will write and that I will meet deadlines. It’s a scary framework to operate under so my next point would be don’t bother people with it.
They’ll read it when it is published but they have their own petty concerns to be getting on with.

I would like to thank those who have been especially supportive during the last month. Kate has been an absolute gem as usual and on top of that I’ve spoken to Haley, Hollie, Sam, Adam, Luke, Ben, Joe, Lee, Nat, Paul, Stacy, Ian, Emily, Emma, Amy, Jess, Feyza, Andreas, Jamie, Jane, Hannah and my dad about it as I went along. The people in the NaNoEssex group were also really cool to chat to and I am genuinely looking forward to reading some of their work going forwards. The Alex in Southend did a top job of holding space for us to put on Write-Ins and meet ups on Sundays. It’s been a solid month and it looks like I’ve got some freelance work emerging as a result. 

It’s nice to be a winner.








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