Years ago someone told me about this challenge, now in its 18th year, based in the USA. Basically it's a gauntlet thrown down to get people who talk about writing their novel to get on and do it - 50,000 words in the month of November. Go Google it, it's quite a big enterprise now, and people from all over the world have a bash every year.
I'm not new to writing work of that length and longer but short stories turned out to be more profitable and for a long time I've not settled down to produce more than about 15,000 words - that was a serial for Woman's Weekly, published in 2014.
But something went bump in the night and one of my three jobs is now an ex-job and although it was only one day a week, it still paid the bills. Without it I shall need to do some more writing and hopefully selling (it's the getting paid that's now more important than the fun of scribbling) and the discipline wasn't there so on 30th October at six in the morning I signed up for NaNoWriMo.
I think you're meant to join in August and plan your novel and the characters and the plot lines and be ready with all your notes to start on November 1st.
Well, I kicked off on November 1st with absolutely nothing in my mind except making myself write something. I plucked an idea out of my moth-eaten memories of a certain Luttrell Memorial Hospital, previously blogged about here about 5 years ago when it finally closed its doors. And I just kept adding to the characters and their lives and the things they got up to and when I got stuck on about Day Ten my editor at People's Friend suggested Ray Chandler's idea of introducing a man with a gun. That wasn't going to work but I loaded an ear syringe and fired that instead and off my burble went again. And it started to form a proper story with a real plot and a goodie and a baddie ...
My mate Gail (The Writing Bug Blog) is hard at this too. We met up on Saturday for a PepChat and a cup of tea and somewhere out there in the ether, she's galloping away towards The End as well.
Dear Reader, every day for 21 days I made myself push the story onward, straight onto the Word document, no editing, no stopping for the RSI that was developing in my hands or the bruising appearing on my forearms. My shoulders ached and my head hurt and HKC2 kept getting shoved off my knees because his paws each carry about 3lbs of pressure and it digs in after a while.
And last night I finally stumbled over the Finish Line, deliberately writing a hundred words or so more than the required 50,000 in case someone at HQ got funny about the words 'Chapter Ten' or whatever and not counting them into my total. They didn't get funny and they validated my count instantly and a nice little Certificate came through. I've only got a black and white printer and I believe someone with a colour one might have a prettier version than mine, but who's complaining? I have 87 single-line-spaced pages of a document (I hesitate to call this a novel) entitled In Memoriam.
It may be absolute twaddle, this wild free-writing exercise, and the required 50K words probably aren't the ones an editor would ask for in the order they're in, but it's done.
I've proved a point to myself - I can do it. At a rate of about 2000 plus words on average each day it seems that having three jobs is no hindrance to sheer bloody-minded determination. Oh, the tyranny of seeing daily totals up there on the screen to bully you into not falling behind.
The discipline of it was something I need to incorporate into my daily routine now to keep writing. It was easier for me doing 'free writing' than it is for someone following their notes and plans because they might feel obliged to stick to them - and I had a non-stick pan in which to fry my story and just flea-jumped to a different character every time I thought I was bogging down.
Anyway, thank God it's over and I'm never doing it again. Can I now write at least a short story of saleable quality just once a week?
Watch this space, but keep your duster at hand, because you know how disciplined I am about keeping this Blog ...