Reflections of a NaNoWriMo newbie

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November is NaNoWriMo time. That’s National Novel Writing Month for the uninitiated. The annual event challenges established, emerging and aspiring writers to put down 50,000 words over 30 days. The idea is to have a first draft of a novel completed by the end of the month with a daily target of 1667 words.

Every year I have an excuse not to do NaNoWriMo. This year is no different but I decided to give it a go anyway. Yesterday was day 4 and so far I’m on target (just) with 6,670 words on the page.

So far I have some sketchy, vaguely painted characters, some skeletal scenes, a bit of dialogue and no apparent plot. I have killed off a few characters, including an unborn child and a couple of chickens, and there is a lot of driving around in cars and some impressive weather.

Still, that’s 6,670 more words of fiction than I have written all year. I’m hoping a plot will emerge at some point and that my characters grow and become more complex portraits.

I have fallen down a few rabbit holes by Googling topics as riveting and diverse as: different types of air conditioning systems, Australian race horse names, bushfire warnings, the smell of amniotic fluid, and Elgar’s cello concertos.

So far I have successfully resisted all urges to edit or re-read what I have written.

Knowing there is a cohort of people around the world all doing the challenge at the same time is kind of comforting and I have been dipping in and out of the #NaNoWriMo Twitter conversation for fortification. Though judging from the hashtag, I am one of the few people not writing fanfic, romance, or scifi.

And I’m keeping in mind all of the writing advice I’ve ever been given: you can edit a bad draft but not a blank page, a first draft is always crap, just get the words down on the page, write every day, trust yourself, etc etc. I have paraphrased the advice here because I don’t have time to Google the actual quotes. I need to get back to writing NaNoWriMo!

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