10 Years Ago This Weekend

Posted on 22nd October, 2021

What were you doing 10 years ago this weekend? Me - I signed up to take part in NaNoWriMo for the first time and then spent the remaining days of October in a state of panic. For the uninitiated, that's National Novel Writing Month, when writers all over the world aim to produce 50,000 words in a month - and not just any month, but November, which has one day fewer than most other months. That's a daily average of 1,667 words. Whether you think that is a lot or a not much depends on your personal circumstances, but for me 10 years ago, it meant combining it with my job as a teacher. Hence the panic.


That November 1st I spent the day at school, then came home and wrote 1,400 words, which on any other day would have been a splendid achievement; but in NaNo terms, I had fallen behind. That pretty well summed up the NaNo experience for me. Some writers surged ahead. Apparently, the age group that is the most successful is the over-55s: retired people. As for me, I worked jolly hard; I wrote every day and on the days I wasn't at work I tried to produce at least 2,000 words - and usually succeeded.


I remember one day in particular. I wrote a single scene and the writing swam along. Finishing that scene felt like a huge achievement, especially as that day at school was extra long because of parents' evening. Even though I wrote "only" 1,000 words, I remember to this day the satisfaction I felt.


Did I hit the 50,000 word target? Good grief, no. I managed 32,000 words. I could have written more (though nowhere near enough to get me anywhere near 50,000) except that I fell into the editing trap. When you do NaNoWriMo, the one piece of advice you are given over and over is not to stop. Keep going. Save the editing for later.


Many writers more than doubled my word count, but I felt I had acquitted myself well. I had written every day for a month. I had worked hard and my average daily word count was over 1,000, which in the context of writing alongside going out to work felt rather good. More than good. I had the most marvellous feeling of achievement.


To everyone who'll be tackling NaNoWriMo this year, especially those of you who are doing it for the first time, I wish you the very best. Enjoy it. It's tremendous fun. Just don't expect to have the energy to do much at the beginning of December.


It's time to let the plot-bunnies out of the hutch ...


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My NaNoWriMo novels:



The Poor Relation


32,000 words


NaNoWriMo 2011


The Surplus Girls


54,000 words


NaNoWriMo 2017


The Surplus Girls' Orphans


66,000 w ords


NaNoWriMo 2018


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