NaNoWriMo one week on

NaNoWriMo word countIt’s over a week since I started writing this year’s NaNoWriMo, and it’s been rough going. Since my plot has veered markedly off-plan I’ve been frantically trying to keep one step ahead of my typing, but often my brain is slow in coming up with ideas. And the plot holes! My god, the plot holes are so large I could fly a spaceship through them.

One way I attempt to inspire myself into writing is to read books with the same kind of tone that I’m trying to achieve. Since my initial idea involved gothic adventure this has meant a lot of Daphne du Maurier, Shirley Jackson, and Henry James. I might re-read Northanger Abbey next to add some humour.

If you’re also writing this month, what have you been reading? Or are you all novel all the time?

Cover of Northanger Abbey Cover of Don't Look Now and Other Stories Cover of The Haunting of Hill House Cover of The Turn of the Screw

No plot? No problem!

NaNoWriMO participantNational Novel Writing Month started on Sunday, the 1st of November, or for the super keen, after midnight on October 31st. To the uninitiated, this is the month set aside for those of us crazy enough to attempt to write 50,000 words by the end of November (about 1667 words a day).

This isn’t my first time attempting NaNoWriMo — I first joined (and won) in 2003 — but the past few years have been flops, ill thought out ideas quickly dying on the page. This time I’m slightly better prepared, having characters and plot in mind before starting to write. I was all set to write a gothic science fiction adventure — you know, Jane Eyre in space, that sort of thing — but I’ve only written 2,000 words and already it’s heading off in a totally different direction. Sigh.

Never mind; this year my goal is simply to keep writing, no matter what rubbish comes out. While one of my writing buddies is already on 25,000 words (how?!) my style of writing is more like… staring in desperation at the ceiling after every sentence, kind of thing. Hopefully by the end of the month I’ll be more in the groove, but not the grave. Although, thinking about it, being buried alive is very gothic novel, so you never know.

Is anyone else mad enough to attempt NaNoWriMo this year? What are you writing about?

Cover of Bird by Bird Cover of Writing Down the Bones Cover of On Writing Cover of Everything I Know About Writing

NaNoWriMo – November is National Novel Writing Month

Write a novel in November! Join more than 250,000 people beginning a literary challenge of epic proportions: 30 days, 50,000 words, and one original novel.

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, the world’s largest writing event and non-profit literary crusade. Participants pledge to write 50,000 words in a month, starting from scratch and reaching “The End” by the 30 November. There are no judges, and no prizes – just the satisfaction of having that “one day” novel down on paper.

More than 650 regional volunteers in more than 60 countries will hold write-ins, including the Christchurch region. Write-ins are hosted in coffee shops, bookstores, and libraries, and offer a supportive environment and surprisingly effective peer pressure – turning the usually solitary act of writing into a community experience. Although the event emphasises creativity and adventure over creating a literary masterpiece, more than 90 novels begun during NaNoWriMo have since been published, including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and Cinder by Marissa Meyer, all #1 New York Times Best Sellers.

What advice does the NaNoWriMo team have for budding novelists? The trick to getting across the 50k mark in November is about persistence and trusting yourself:

But I’ve never done anything like this before! I have no idea how to write a novel…
It’s okay not to know what you’re doing. You’ve read a lot of novels, so you’re completely up to the challenge of writing one. You may feel more comfortable outlining your story ahead of time – if so, do it! But it’s also fine to just wing it. Write every day, and a book-worthy story will appear, even if you’re not sure what the story might be right now.

How can I get to 50k when I have to go back and correct all my spelling mistakes and terrible grammar?
Do not edit as you go. Editing is for December and beyond. Think of November as an experiment in pure output. Even if it’s hard at first, leave ugly prose and poorly written passages in the page to be cleaned up later. Your inner editor will be very grumpy about this, but your inner editor is a nitpicky jerk who foolishly believes that it is possible to write a brilliant first draft if you write it slowly enough. It isn’t.
It’s a big commitment. How can I stay motivated?
First, sign up to the forums at It’s a community of encouraging, likeminded novelists who want you to win as much as you do. Second, come to a few “write-ins.” These are meetings of fellow Wrimos during November, either at a cafe, bookstore or library. It’s a time to meet, chat, encourage one another – but most of all, write! Finally, tell everyone you know that you’re writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing stopping you from quitting is the fear of looking like a quitter in front of all the people who’ve had to hear about your magnum opus.

For more information on National Novel Writing Month visit or to contact a Christchurch Municipal Liaison email Vanessa