It’s that time of year again

I’ve always loved autumn. The carpets of shed leaves, the colours, the skies. Halloween and all the fancy dress and apple bobbing and toffee. Bonfire Night and fireworks, the smell of gunpowder in the air. And, in Nottingham, the fair comes to town too. I love that feeling of being cosy inside whilst the rain comes down and the wind howls and the night closes in much earlier than you’re used to. It’s my wedding anniversary too, early November. But, of course, it’s no coincidence that I chose to get married at my favourite time of year.

And, of course, November is also National Novel Writing Month. I considered doing it this year but decided against it. I’ve completed (or won, as the folks at Nanowrimo like to call it) twice and failed once. And I’ve got a lot out of it in terms of productivity and words. But, this year, I’ve decided not to because I’ve worked out that the biggest issue for me as a writer is not writing fast. I tend to be in a bit of a rush, if the truth be told, so that the trick, really, is slowing myself down and thinking more about things. Taking some time over it. That said, I’m not knocking Nanowrimo at all. 50 000 words in a month is not ridiculous and to get that chunk of book finished in one month is a good start towards that finished first draft. Just don’t send it out in December, that’s all.

If you are doing Nanowrimo this year, I thought I’d give you some of the benefit of my experience along the way. So here’s my three top tips for getting 50 000 words written in a month.

  1. Turn of that pesky internal editor. She’ll try to get you. She’ll try to slow you down. Tell her to do one and keep on keeping on.
  2. At this point in the month, you’re heading for 10 000 words. Ace. For me, this is the point at which I’m getting to know my characters well enough to understand what they’d do, or not do, in various situations. If you’re a planner, it might be worth revisiting that plan now you know who you’re dealing with. If you’re a pantser, well, you might want at least to think about your ending at this point. Or some of the key points along the way. As someone who falls between the two ways of working, I do think some planning can really help you find your way through all the thorny forests of doubt and to the end of that draft.
  3. Stay playful. It’s easy to get so wrapped in a project that you lose your way, and forget the things you enjoyed about writing. Keep going with those morning pages, if you do them. Keep finding writing prompts and having a go at them, even if you use them to explore your novel or its characters. Write haiku in between chapters. Or blog posts! Or some flash fiction…

Getting too wrapped up

and forgetting to play can

make you lose your way. *

Keep on keeping on


*I’m not a poet and believe me, I know it!

PS If you’re quick off the mark, there are still a few free enrollments left on my Kickstart your Novel Skillshare course. Click here to enroll for free, or here to get three months premium membership and access all their courses for just $0.99.




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