November writing

NaNo-2015-Winner-Certificate-Full copy

This month, my one and only writing goal was to start and finish the second novel in my children’s series. I signed up for NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, where participants are encouraged to write 50,000 words of a novel. And I am happy to report I did it! 55,638 words in November!

I am tired and my house looks like a bomb has hit it – you see, I am so out of words that I am resorting to cliches! But despite a messy home and a month with more takeaway dinners than usual, I now have a messy first draft that I can work with in February after the kids go back to school. There’s no point in touching the thing now – it has plot holes so large you could build a freeway through them. There are minor characters who have three names each because I decided during chapter 23 not to go back to chapter 14 to find out their name. The ending definitely needs work and will probably change. I expect I will delete at least a third of my first draft, and add another two thirds in. I have written myself some notes so I know where to start in February.

But, I now know I am capable of writing almost 2,000 words in an hour. If you write quickly enough, you can’t hear the inner critic, telling you your work isn’t good enough. And I’ve learnt that I can live with the uncertainty of knowing what my characters are going to do next. And it’s ok to type in the password on my laptop and not know what I are going to write until a minute later. One of the minor characters took off and demanded a bigger space on the page, and I’m glad she did. I loved the forward momentum of a month’s deadline – there’s no time to go back, the only way is forward. Next time I would try and plan out the whole book more – I did try to do that in September and October and it wasn’t enough time to do it properly. And I’m glad I didn’t do much research before I started writing – otherwise the plot would have been influenced by facts rather than my imagination. Never let truth get in the way of a good story.

The accountability and support of my NaNo facebook group was extraordinarily helpful. Knowing that there were other writers out there, staying up late, getting up early, writing around work and family commitments, made the process seem less lonely. Showing up day after day to write a story that might not be publishable is not an easy thing to do. Knowing that there were others out there facing the same demons and inner critics was a huge boost.

Thank you so much to all my friends and family who have supported me this month, with words of encouragement, asking me how my writing is going, lovely comments on Facebook and looking after my kids to give me extra writing time. I could not have made it without you! I really appreciate your support with my writing and my blog.

This month, I also applied for a mentorship program and worked on an editing project, a non-fiction marketing book.

December will be a non-writing month. I need to finish up my editing job – and buy a few Christmas presents. And birthday presents – there are five family members with birthdays in December. Writing is cyclical – after such an intense month, I need some time to plan how I’m going to finalise my first book, and then redraft this second book.

I will be posting Christmas book lists over the next few weeks – for adults and kids. Let me know if there’s a particular age group or area you’d like me to consider.

18 comments

  1. Wow , what amazing achievement Karen. I really enjoyed reading about your process and how typing quickly silenced your inner critic ! Sounds like December will be a busy month too, enjoy all the celebrations. x

    1. Thank you, Emily. Yes, that was a big learning for me – don’t think, just type so quickly that there’s no room for doubt.

  2. Well done Karen. I’m looking forward to seeing your name on the cover of a book in the window of a book shop!!! How exciting that will be.

  3. Well done Karen!! Interesting how much of the inner talk needs to be silenced to get the job done. A good lesson for all of us in that! x

    1. Thanks, Felicity – I think the inner critic is there in many life areas – wonder if speed works for silencing the parenting inner critic, the exercise inner critic, the housework inner critic?

  4. Congratulations! Have never done it myself as I tend to edit as I go but the whole affair really fascinates me and seems to work well for so many people. I do think it must be a great feeling to get that under your belt before heading into the holidays so you feel justified in taking the time off. Well done!

    1. Thanks, Nicole. As an editor, I found it easier to decide ‘no editing the first draft’ rather than constantly go backwards and forwards with writing and editing. I would do it this way again, because you’re focusing on creating rather than creating and fixing – just a different mindset, I guess.

  5. Well Done Karen,
    It sounds like a real challenge but an enjoyable one that also brings a new, almost free fall, way of writing that might throw up some interesting character profiles.

    1. It was a really spontaneous way of writing – which is how the first draft should be. Plenty of time later to edit.

  6. In the words of Brene Brown, Karen you are a true badass! You are one of the rare people in life you is willing to show up and be seen. You’re willing to dare, fall, feel your way through tough emotion, rise again and come out the otherside authentic and powerful.

    I am so proud of you but most of all I admire you!

    X Lee

    P.S. Karen I think you should print this blog post and pin it up in your office. There is incredible insight, wisdom and beauty in your words above.

  7. Well done Karen, what an achievement! I admire your discipline. I would love some recommendations for 8-10 year old girls – a tricky audience.

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