It’s that time of year – thousands of would-be-wordsmiths across the globe are scribbling away, aiming to write 50,000 words of a novel in a month. Every year, I intend to take part but something, somewhere, stops it from happening. For the past three years, it’s been university work. This year, I’ve already fast-drafted four novels, so I thought I’d have a chance.
The universe said no. First, the start of NaNoWriMo coincided with the review tour for my book, Darkness Watching, so I began as a neurotic mess with a tendency to over-analyse every sentence to death. My inner self-critic was in overdrive, and I fell behind on my WIP within a day! I can always catch up later, I thought…then I planned an impromptu weekend away.
“I’ll write on the train!” I told myself. Two hours is plenty of time to get some words down, right? Unfortunately, the universe decided to intervene and make my train late, so I ended up with no seat and had to stand in the corridor for two hours. Even I’m not crazy enough to try and type on my laptop whilst standing in a moving train…
And then my boyfriend bought me a 2DS. Gaming is my biggest weakness, and try as I might, I couldn’t resist the lure of Pokemon. So I got absolutely nothing written over the weekend. I tried to catch up on the train back, but only managed to fall asleep. Then, the next day I woke up with flu. The universe strikes again! I battled the fog in my head for a week, forcing myself to get words on the page, but I felt sluggish and uninspired.
Then came the thing I’d waited for – and dreaded – for months. The Editorial Email of Doom, from my publishers, for the second Darkworld novel. I’d known it was coming at some point in November, but one look at the long list of things to change told me I’d have to put my NaNo project aside if I ever wanted to get it done. When I edit, I need to be fully immersed in the story’s world to the exclusion of everything else. So I locked myself in the editing cave for a week. I got no new words on my WIP done, but rewrote the best part of a 63,000-word novel.
By now, there was no chance I’d be able to catch up. So I willingly let myself get distracted, first by shiny new ideas, then by editing old projects, then by Pitch Wars. I had a YA fantasy that was almost ready to query (except I’d been putting it off due to my fear and hatred of query letters and synopses…). So I did the final polish and drafted the query. Once again, my poor NaNo WIP took a back seat!
And now I’m facing the last week of NaNoWriMo, and unless I get possessed by some crazy writing muse, I’m unlikely to ‘win’ this year. Strangely, I don’t mind. The main goal of NaNo is to get into the habit of writing, and for writers, every month is a writing month. The important thing for me is that I’m always working on something – be it drafting, revising or editing. Maybe next year NaNoWriMo will coincide with starting a draft!