Even though I was born in the spring and should cherish budding flowers and lambs-a-leaping, I do prefer the autumn months. Crisp mornings full of colour, hot chocolate stacked high with marshmallows, and, of course, Halloween. As a writer of fantasy, I am in my element around All Hallows Eve. I get to dress in my beloved black clothing and nobody bats an eye (sorry, couldn’t resist the bat reference).
There is another reason the autumn months fill me with giddiness – NaNoWriMo. Yes, National Novel Writing Month, a seat-of-your-pants writing competition, takes over the minds and souls of over three-hundred-thousand writers’ for thirty days and nights.
This year will be my third NaNo, and hopefully my third win. To ‘win’ you simply have to finish, this means writing a fifty-thousand word novel in thirty days, simples!
You either love or loathe this competition, and I’m not going to get into the politics of it here. Some writers’ dislike the process, and others, like me, see it for what it is – a fun chance to get a first draft completed. The idea is to get as many words on the page as you can, the grammar and structure can be re-worked in December.
I approach this competition like an SAS mission. The kids know where to find food, how to wash their clothes and to glide the pointy end of the iron away from the body. I stock up on all the necessities – chocolate and coffee. I tell my family and friends that I am ‘unavailable for consultation’; I’ll catch up with them in December. Then I close the office door and begin.
As an avid list writer, it seemed only fitting to write a 30 Days of NaNo list. I hope you enjoy it.
Day 1 – Stop rearranging your desk and start writing.
Day 2 – Believe that your first paragraph is perfect, even when it’s garbage.
Day 3 – Kill a main character.
Day 4 – Buy more chocolate.
Day 5 – Bonfire Night! Tie an effigy of your main character to a firework and send them to the stars.
Day 6 – Stop checking Facebook.
Day 7 – Panic about the main character you killed on day 3 and raise them from the dead.
Day 8 – Shower – for the love of all that’s holy – shower!
Day 9 – Attach an ‘infectious disease’ poster to your front door – they’ll soon stop knocking.
Day 10 – Did you realise you’d survived the first week? Dance in your underwear.
Day 11 – Brain ache.
Day 12 – Throw in a mutant mermaid for good measure.
Day 13 – Repeat after me, ‘I am grateful for this opportunity, I am grateful for this…’
Day 14 – Put on some clothes and write in a coffee shop – mingle with the living.
Day 15 – Half way there! Replenish chocolate supplies.
Day 16 – Shout plot twist and move on.
Day 17 – Try to remain calm, the vein in your head is pulsing.
Day 18 – It’s okay to use the same word fifty times in a paragraph, you can dig out the Thesaurus in December.
Day 19 – Wizards are old news but politicians covered in scales could work.
Day 20 – Channel your inner Tolkien and send two characters to deliver a pizza.
Day 21 – Curse the smug bastards who have uploaded 100,000 words already.
Day 22 – Breathe deeply…oh crap, I just lost 5 minutes.
Day 23 – Block Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, no one can help you now.
Day 24 – Under no circumstances do you read what you’ve written.
Day 25 – Feeling rebellious? Only write 1665 words today.
Day 26 – Don’t Panic!!
Day 27 – If in doubt, add a fire breathing dragon.
Day 28 – Write the last 5000 words in another POV and freak out your main character.
Day 29 – Now you can panic!
Day 30 – Write like your life depends on it.
The outlining is done, the character bios are stuck on my noticeboard, and there are 54lbs of Cadbury’s chocolate in the fridge. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Wish me luck x