National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo to the initiated

It’s here again! National Novel Writing Month begins today and writers all over the world are gearing up for a month of early morning and midnight write-ins as they work towards their 50,000 word goal on the 30th November.

This equates to 1667 words per day. That’s a manageable amount of words each day for those who are in the habit of writing each and every day, no matter what. The problem comes when a day is missed. Or worse, two days. The word count mounts and eventually it becomes impossible to catch up, as I found out in 2006.

Last year I won NaNoWriMo. I paced myself and wrote every day, no matter what. I tried to write more when I had more time and inspiration – on on inevitable down days I still wrote. Early morning, late nights, weekly write-ins in a wine bar with drinkers looking on as we describe our plots and characters – all part of the nano madness.

I attended a kick-off party yesterday that was attended by 20 writers from my home region of Manchester. We received a goody bag full of stickers, a box where we keep our inner editor, a crib sheet and a plot ninja. Yes, a plot ninja! This was a sealable envelope and a slip of paper which has to be completed with a cross-genre plot development than sealed and given to the MLP (municipal liaison person – NaNoWriMo retains lots of these Americanisms).

This was more difficult that I expected. We had all chatted about our genre selection for NaNoWriMo, overwhelmingly fantasy and sci-fi with a few contemporary fiction, horror and mystery thrown in. The plot ninja had to a general idea that moved the plot on or introduced a character to keep the creative juices flowing. Much hilarity about ferrets and porn ensued and eventually we got our ninjas together in one place, ready to call upon in emergencies.

As well as the regional meets there are virtual attachments to be had. I am a members of WriteWords writer’s forum and several writers form there have signed up. I’ll be watching their word counts shoot up and, ever-competitive, I’ll be frantically trying to keep up.

This year I’m developing an idea I had shortly after writing ‘Life: Immaterial’. I already have a plot outline and although I won’t stick to it I hope to have a fairly rounded basis for a complete novel by the end of November. My novel is about a woman who, like the Bridget Jones stereotype, is looking for Mr Pefect. She finds more than she bargained for in a man who’s obsessed with his ex-girlfriend and her reaction to everything surrounding this gives my MC a backbone. For me, as a writer, it’s a battle to make my MC sympathetic yet viable. I’ve got an enduring problem with writing women as stupid yet I appreciate that women do make mistakes in love and everyone can be duped. It really is a fine line between having my MC appear ‘dumb’ or ‘intelligent yet misguided’.

So I’ll be all about writing and NaNoWriMo for the next month, unless something political riles me and I feel I have to have an interlude. Good luck to everyone who’s doing NaNoWriMo – like everything worth doing it’s not really about luck it’s about hard work and tenacity so keep writing!