NaNoWriMo and absence

I have been absent from my blog. Three months ago I started a 100 day writing challenge. When I started I came up with a bunch of excuses, self-imposed obstacles. Over-thinking it, as usual.

  1. I get caught up in the technicalities of writing a good story when I should just write
  2. When I think about writing memoirs, I feel completely overwhelmed by where to start
  3. I worry that I won’t be able to write every day because I do have a full-time job, and a son to look after, and, and …

Then some kind of additional madness took hold of me. I read a post by Gretchen Rubin about the NaNoWriMo challenge. Why not really push myself and quell those misgivings I had?

On the spur of the moment, I signed up to do the NaNoWriMo challenge. The aim? To start a novel and write 50000 words in the month. Was I absolutely crazy?

I’ve never thought about writing a novel, but I had some pieces I wrote years ago that could be developed. The second obstacle overcome – don’t write memoirs, write fiction instead!

I’m terrible at trying to write the perfect sentence/dialogue, constantly editing until the thing is dead before it sees the light of day.  I took on board another suggestion – send my Inner Editor away for a month and just get the ideas down. Editing can come when the month is finished and there is something to work with. I banished my Inner Editor to the Outer Hebrides and blasted my first obstacle.

November is the busiest time of the year for academics in South Africa – it is the end of our academic year, we are rushing to get students through their masters and PhDs so that can be examined in time for April graduation. Oh, and don’t mention funders reports! Obstacle three – stop whingeing, just go for it!

Chris Baty’s book “No Plot, No Problem” guided me through the process and each week’s obstacles. Staying up late writing (unheard of for me) became the norm. Perhaps I also over-shared my plot ideas with my 18-year-old son – he deserves a medal, bless him.

My initial germ of an idea for the story changed. And changed again. It is still in there somewhere but is not the main story any longer. I had some magical storytelling moments during the month. My synapses were sparking and connections were made. And slowly, the story came together.

I pushed through the highs and the many lows and wrote 8500 words on the final Saturday. The rush was on to reach the target – I abandoned the lengthy dialogue scenes and just got my ideas written down. When I finally wrote ‘The End” and achieved 50,095 words, I was elated. Woo hoo! I verified the word count on the NaNoWriMo site, printed out ‘my novel’ and slept.

But first, I need a break from it.

Then the editing will start. All those ideas I added at the end will need to be teased out and developed into full scenes, so ‘The Novel’ is by no means finished. Regardless, it was my first foray into fiction writing and I did it! Who knows, maybe one day “The Ladybug Tin” will be a published book!

For now, I’m basking in being a NaNoWriMo winner!

Winner image

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