Dispatches From The Querying Trenches. Kirsten Looks Back At November.

Posted on 1st December, 2017

It says Dispatches From the Querying Trenches, but maybe it should be re-titled Dispatches From the NaNoWriMo Trenches. Let Kirsten tell you more....


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So that was November.


The month I took on and ‘won’ NaNoWriMo.


For the uninitiated, National Novel Writing Month is an annual creative writing project that takes place during November with the strapline ‘the world needs your novel’. Participants attempt to write 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30 and my writing friends were signing up left, right and centre.


At first I was cynical. I wasn’t entirely sure the world did need my novel – after all, there are plenty of fantastic novels out there already, aren’t there? And 50,000 seemed an awful lot of words. It took almost a year to get to that point with my first novel - how could I possibly cram all that writing, all that thinking, all that angst-ing into one measly month? And a 30 day month at that. What if the muse didn’t strike? What if I rushed out of the gates with 5,000 words a day and ran out of steam by Bonfire Night. What if I left it until the last minute and attempted an unseemly and ultimately unsuccessful gallop to the finishing line. Either way, I was dooming myself to failure.


Nonetheless I signed up. I was 23k words through my second novel - a love story set on an archaeological dig - and progress was slow. Even if I only completed 10,000 words, it would still be a result. Plus everyone else was doing it and I didn’t want to miss out on the fun and camaraderie. (I know, I know - I’m such a ‘follower’…)


Well, what a great, big whirlwind of a month it’s been.


720 hours later, I have added 50, 016 words to ‘Muddy Milly’ (working title!) and have pretty much completed the first draft. And it’s been brilliant.



There is something very freeing about the manta ‘ don’t get it right, get it written.’ With my first book, I spent hours polishing the same old passages - passages that didn’t even make it into be final cut of the book. With NaNo there is little time to vet what you’re writing - you just push on. You write whether or not the muse has bothered to turn up but with the characters and story always front of mind. I found it much easier to crack on than on previous occasions when I hadn’t turned the computer on for the best part of the week. I accept this isn’t for everyone but I believe it made me braver and ultimately a better writer. The characters took on a life of their own and decided to go off-piste on a couple of occasions. A couple of new characters made an appearance. I even wrote my first sex scene!


I’m so chuffed to have completed the challenge. Like many of us, I don’t have a whole load of control over some aspects of my life at the moment, and it’s been great to prove to myself that I can still take on and finish projects. Plus, in the eternal quest for agents and publication, writing is so often all about rejection or ‘failing’. It’s lovely to ‘win’ for once.


The certificate has pride of place on the fridge. I’m showing my stats to anyone who will look – and even people who would rather not. Even the teens have said well done!


The support and camaraderie part was everything I hoped it would be and many thanks to Sue, Moira, Jane, Karen, Tara, Cath, Kate, Alexis, Jan, Julie, Cass, Catherine and the bunch from Reading Writers for making it so much fun. I couldn’t have done it without you guys. We are all winners and may all our writing dreams come true.


Here’s to doing it all over again next November.


In the meantime, a very happy December to you all and I’m off to start my Christmas shopping!



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Comments (33)

What a brilliant post! Well done on your amazing achievement, Kirsten. You might well have tempted me to try NaNoWriMo myself this year.
Great read lived it x
I’m amazed you still remember that ‘No, No Nano’ blog post, Susanna!
Thanks Cass. It was great fun sharing the experience with you and everyone else xxx
You were amazing, Kirsten! Well done on reaching your goal and on finishing the first draft of the new book! I'm in awe of everyone who finished!
Thank you Alexis. It's been great fun, hasn't it? Can't wait to read your book too xx
Well done for getting to 50k Kirsten! Amazing. It was very inspiring to be part of a group of writers all doing Nano and really helped me keep writing the whole month! Can't wait to read your novel one day soon!
Mind you, now I'm reading back some of the twaddle I've written, maybe you have a point Wendy!!!
Haha!! Really? I must go and look that up!! xx
Hi, Wendy. Thanks for commenting. Kirsten - Wendy one wrote a blog entitled 'No, No, NaNo.' Does that answer your question?!
Thank you so much Wendy xx Have you ever done NaNo? xx
Many congratulations on your NaNo success, Kirsten. That’s a huge achievement.
Thank you Tara. and many congratulations on getting to the magic 50k first. It was your success that spurred me on and made me realise that it could be done. Good luck with the editing! xx
Hee hee, Jen. Delighted to be a member of the ...ahem ... *club*. I'm so pleased you enjoyed the blog and thank you for your support xx
Hi, Tara. The group made a big difference - certainly to me. It was seeing you and then Kirsten reaching the 50,000 words mark that spurred me on to get to it as well. As for the editing - that's my favourite bit.
So pleased you made it to 50k, Kirsten. It was lovely to be part of the group, it made such a difference. I think I’d even consider doing it next year too - although I need to edit this one first!
Ha ha! Love the comment about the world of sex scenes, Jen! Glad you enjoyed Kirsten's blog.
Many congrats, Kirsten! Well done you! I enjoyed reading this post and hearing about your NaNo adventure.

And 'welcome' to the world of writing sex scenes! :)
Oh Jan, what a lovely comment - thank you so much. It was the support of you and the others that really made NaNo for me. It's really difficult to keep going when life gets in the way, isn't it - and you a really stressful time this month - so many congratulations on you own total xx
Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment Jane (Almey) - I always really appreciate your support and interest in my writing life. Love you, lady xx
Oh Julie, you're comment made me laugh and laugh. What a hoot! I can just imagine your teenage excitement.The closest I got was playing Twister with the local lads at Youth Club
Thank you, Jan, for your lovely comment. I think we all benefited from one another's interest and support. Writers need other writers! I know you didn't manage to get to the magic 50,000, but you accomplished a lot and it was done in spite of, as you say, life getting in the way. Congratulations on your achievement.
I'm so glad you enjoyed Nano more this year Jane (Ayres) - I've loved all your humorous comments and quips along the way - you've really helped to keep me going. Well done on your total - you're a star!! xx
Hi, Jane (Almey). Thanks for visiting Kirsten's guest blog. Kirsten certainly made the most of her NaNo month. It was partly because of her success that I made the final push and got across the 50,000 line.
Thank you Moira - Muddy Millie will be ready for you soon .... ;-) I can't wait to read what you've been writing too! xx
Hi, Julie. I wonder if your teenage experience of archeology will end up in another draft of Muddy Millie..? Thanks for commenting.
Thank you, Jane (Ayres), for your kind words. I'm so glad you decided to take part in NaNo this year and that you enjoyed it so much. Having the support of a group of like-minded writers makes all the difference - at least, it did to me. See you same time next year, I hope?
Huge congratulations, Kirsten. You deserve to feel very proud of your achievement. As part of the group, I followed your progress with interest and was rooting for you to get there . . . and you did! 🎉👏 As you hinted, sometimes life gets in the way and because of the support of you and the group, I kept going and made sure I wrote as much as I could. Thank you everyone. Congratulations to you, too, Sue. 🎉 I can’t wait to read both books!
Hi Kirdten

Well done you!!! This adventure sounds like it has been very exciting AND fruitful!
The principle behind this challenge seems to make sense. I am very glad you have found it so motivating. I also appreciate your thought about behind glad to be a winner in this instance.

Jane x
I really enjoyed reading the blog, Kirsten. You've done brilliantly to win Nano and have every reason to feel proud. Your book sounds great and I can't wait to hear more about it.

We used to have an archaeological society at school - my abiding memory is going all over Yorkshire visiting various sites in a battered old van, sitting on benches in the back. Every time it went round a corner, half the occupants would lurch across and end up on top of the others, which was quite entertaining for a mixed group of teenagers! It wouldn't be allowed nowadays of course. Hope Muddy Milly has as much fun!
Another great blog and a fantastic effort from Kirsten. I take back my negativity about Nano for last year. With the support of so many great writers, Kirsten and Susanna especially, I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in 2017 even though I was a few words short of the 5k. It’s all about keeping each other going and being inspired by one another. I can’t wait to read about Muddy Milly.
Glad you enjoyed the blog, Moira. NaNoWriMo is such a huge commitment and Kirsten did brilliantly to write her 50,000 words, and not only that but to get them done before the end of the month. I think her blog shows what fun NaNo is.
Another lovely blog Susanna. I always like reading about what Kirsten has been getting up to and I can't wait to read all about Muddy Millie! And well done for that certificate! x