October to me is the time of wearing several layers of sweaters, celebrating my Dad’s birthday and getting ready for NaNoWriMo.
National Novel Writing Month is a seat-of-the-pants literary challenge taking place every November. Participants aim to write a brand new 50,000 words story in 30 days.
It’s now an international event, with many local chapters, including here in London!
I was introduced to Nano just after I moved to the UK and joined all four of the lovely people I’d met by then were doing it too. As it turned out, peer pressure is a corner stone of Nano (in a good way, I promise). Since then, I’ve been month-noveling furiously every November.
Keeping up the pace all month is difficult (in fact I always fall behind) and can be frustrating, but there are also exhilarating moments when your story behaves itself, everything is coming together nicely and you have enough points on your Costa card to get your sixth coffee of the day for free. Plus they have all the yummy Christmas drinks already in November. And on the less-inspiring days, there’s nothing better to spur you on than the sound of everyone else in the room typing like the wind. Guilt monkeys are also a corner stone of Nanowrimo.
Now of course neither you nor I will produce a masterpiece worth millions this November, but I know that I’ll be writing. I’ll be writing a lot more than I usually do. I’ll be taking risks, exploring silly ideas, taking dares and coming up with the kind of insane things one can only dream up when on a coffee drip. There will be some dreadful crashes, but I can guarantee there will also be some good stuff.
I know this because four years ago the most writing I had ever done were the first pages of one fantasy epic (complete with red-headed elves with apostrophes in every other character’s name) and about three Harry Potter fanfictions. I’ve now written four novels. They’re all very short, mostly unfinished and not that good, but each of them is a bit better than the last and crucially, the writing that I do outside of November is also massively improved.
So whether you’re new to writing or an old hand I think you should give Nanowrimo a shot. The worse thing that can happen is you ending up with a story you won’t reuse, but you’ll still be 50,000 words of practice better off than before.