Stumbling over the Nanowrimo finish line, and what I learnt along the way

So November happened, and for the first time I decided to get on the crazy word train that is Nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month.

And I only went and bloody did it.

I mean, I hit the 50k target for the month – I can’t really say it’s a novel, it still needing around 20/30k words to finish it off.

But anyway – HUZZAH – release the party poppers, the champagne corks and the dogs with novelty party hats.

But it was hard. Harder, even, than I’d expected. And as I hit the last week around 5k behind, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. But I did, with much swearing, both on manuscript and off. And it was fun, as well as hard. I do, after all, rather enjoy swearing.

No doubt, it ain’t the finest 50k words I’ve ever written, but it’s words, all the same. And that’s the joy of Nanowrimo – just getting the words out and down.

So, after allowing myself a minor celebration at the fact I survived, here’s my initial thoughts on what my brain coils took away from the whole Nanowrimo experience.

  • I wrote 50,000 words this month. In the most refined of joyous expressions I can find, fuck, yeah.
  • I like sleep. I really like sleep. I already knew I liked sleep. I like it even more than I thought. I like it nearly as much as I like cheese.
  • It’s amazing how many people I know on Twitter that took on the Nanowrimo challenge. It’s also amazing how many new people I met on Twitter because we were in the same Nanowrimo boat. Cheers to y’all.
  • The Beast prefers to sit on the keyboard rather than help with the word count.
  • I developed a bizarre and fetishistic love of the WORD COUNT SPREADSHEET. As much as the idea of opening up a spreadsheet normally fills me with a certain, deep-rooted dread reserved for the likes of meeting co-workers’ new born babies (seriously, don’t make me hold it), I actually found the spreadsheet a fantastic tool for analysing my own writing patterns.
  • I have a strange and erratic approach to the daily word count. I started off pretty well, then proceeded to spread six non writing days liberally across the rest of the month. Six days. That is basically a week. I spent practically a quarter of Nanowrimo not writing. (To be more specific, I spent a quarter of Nanowrimo out and about and partaking of the odd festive beverage). That was not my finest plan.
  • Sometimes, it’s better not to write. Sometimes, it’s better to take a step back, assess where you’re at, do some plot work. Attempting to work to a daily word count felt like it pushed those moments out of the picture.
  • Even so, 50,000 words. As nobody better than Heavy D can put it – BOOOOOMMMM.

  • I like to edit as I go. Trying to meet the word count meant I read back on myself less. I may regret that later. Scratch that, I will regret that later.
  • I have some repetitive and lazy writing ticks.
  • I am inappropriately proud of the fact that I didn’t resort to writing whole pages filled with just cuss words. I know, it’s a shocker.
  • I am quite good at writing when drunk. Not so much the next day.
  • I have a lot of editing to do.
  • Did I mention that sleep is great?
  • Nanowrimers, on the whole seem like a rather bloody lovely bunch.

And now, while I try to keep the momentum up, I shall also be getting back to some FlashDogs work and other such things that I may have somewhat neglected over the past month. After I have indulged in catching up on some sleep.

But what about you? Did you partake of the great Nanowrimo feast? What did you take away from it?

Congrats to everyone that took part, whether you hit your target word count or not. Every word you get down is worthy of a celebration.

So here’s to y’all, I raise my glass and salute you.

Keep writing fiends.

Grind Spark – out now

Longlisted for the Bath Novel Award 2014, Grind spark is a near-future dystopian novel about growing up in the years leading up to the end of the world. It’s about pretending to be the perfect family. It’s about whether you want to survive. Treat your eye portals. Pick up your copy here.

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