Tuesday, 1 December 2009

November - a Month of non NaNo Compliancy and Huge Literary Steps

What a month!  Well, I have proved to myself - not that it needed proving - that I will never be NaNoWriMo compliant.  In fact, the few days that I forced myself to participate were torture.  I am no less in favour of it than before.  If anything I love it more.  It is not my thing at all but is such a great event for so many writers that I plan to support it next year.  If I suggest taking part, however, scream at me.

Why is it not my thing?  Too many reasons for one post.  In fact, whilst I always suspected I might lack compliance I thought I'd be able to give it a bash at least.  No.  Had an almost physical reaction to it.  The main reason?  I need privacy.  I'll wait for you to stop laughing..... Okay, I understand the irony of broadcasting my need for privacy in my online diary, and I know that as a Twitter native it may sound odd - but it is true.  This is why I am so glad that I tried - and failed - to be NaNo compliant.

NaNoWriMo showed me the difference between my writer self and my novelist self.  As a writer, I can tap out blogs, tweets, business reports, contracts, articles etc with the world watching and not give a hoot but as a novelist I cannot.  Writing fiction is sacred to me.  The people who exist in my books only ever exist while they are being written or read.  The outside world does not belong in my novels.  Yes, I research - I never stop researching.  The 'real' world is vital to my books but the actual day-to-day world does not belong in their world while they are being written.  My characters demand space that is just for them.  They demand that I tell their stories with emotional accuracy and they won't let me invite others into that process.  Once the first draft is done, it's a different.  For me, the creative process and the editing process are not the same.  I don't need someone telling me what they think of my story; daily word count etc while I write.  Not helpful.  I hit my deadline ALWAYS.  My deadline is 14th February.  My characters finish talking on the 14th February every year and that is that.  Suddenly deciding that this time around I will write a novel in a month is an exercise in daftness.  Unfortunately, when I suggested it, nobody slapped me.  As a consequence, every one of my characters has - and I am bruised.

No 'writing a novel in a month' for me then.  So, has November been a total waste?  Oh no!  In fact, I took advantage of the fact that most people are NaNo compliant to hunt in usually crowded territory.  November, for me, was about getting published.  My first manuscript is with both agents and publishers; I have written articles for two magazines - one in UK and the other in US - and I made my BBC radio debut (my bit is minute 47 onwards) Aside from that, I received three public endorsements from Stephen Fry for my writing.  Not a bad month!  The moral of the story?  Sometimes your answers come to you in an unexpected way.  The most obvious route is not always the best for everyone and life can surprise you or, to put it another way...



  1. I am also non NaNo compliant, and didn't even try this year, though I did set some ridiculous goals that I am in the process of not meeting. I think it's too much of an arbitrary thing to say that in this 30 day stretch of time I am going to sit down and write a novel. It makes more sense to write when you are able and when it is the best time for you. I can see its benefit in helping those of us prone to procrastination, but I agree with you I want my privacy and I want to do things my way.

  2. The reason I enrolled in Nano was #1 it was a challenge for me. and #2 I learned that a good novel CANNOT be possibly written in a month. I need more time like you to experience what my characters are thinking and feeling. I feel like I had an ADHD moment with my characters. I'm not leaving them to rot. December is for editing. And that's what I am gonna do. I will be published one day. Watch me. And #3 reason i did Nano was I wanted to complete something. If I had to be forced then so be it, I know now without a shadow of a doubt I can write a novel. I kinda wrote one before but not really.

    Thanks for linking up to your blog on Twitter today. I knew U wrote, but didn't realize U had a blog. DUH! Silly me. I am following U now. And now I totally want to review and/or read one of your books...You sound like somebody I would read....:D

  3. Although I would never set myself up for the inevitable by attempting NaNoWriMo (I've also learned to stop writing New Year's Resolutions - finally - for the same reasons), I do admire those who have the strength to try. And as for no good novel coming out of a month of writing, well, hey... someone had to write "It was a dark and stormy night."


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Rebecca Woodhead's Fan Box