That was in March 2011. Later in the year, just before November, she told me about NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. It’s a great online program, it’s free, and it encourages writers to not only start a novel, but to actually finish it.
The premise is this:
You sign up online at the end of October, and create a profile, thus creating accountability for yourself.
The daily target of words is 1,666
November has 30 days, which equates to almost 50,000 words, the length of classic American novel, ‘The Great Gatsby.’
Each day, you register your total number of words written, which goes into a graph so you can see your progress.
And it works. When you see that graph start to angle upwards towards your target, it really does inspire you to push on and make it to 50,000 words, or, in theory, to finish the first draft of your manuscript. Below is the chart of my progress after the 30 days were up.
As you can see, I’d exceeded the target by nearly 12,000 words, but in reality my story was barely getting started. So I just continued on into December, and finally finished the 1st draft on December 30th, with over 100,000 in the bag. Since then, the novel has been finished, the title has changed, the character’s names have changed…it’s more or less unrecognizable from that first draft.
I started ‘NaNoWriMo 2012’ with no idea whatsoever about how to write a novel. But that’s the point here. You don’t need to know. All you do need is the seed of an idea, something to write on, and a couple of hours a day, which is what I estimate it took me to write the daily target of 1,666 words. You don’t need to edit or worry about mistakes. You don’t need to consider holes in the plot. And it doesn’t even matter if you have ever written anything before or not. All of the tidying up and spell checks and that stuff comes after. In fact, never take a backward step, because that’s just your valuable time wasted.
It is my firm belief that everyone has a story to tell. And NaNoWriMo is a perfect platform in which to get it down on paper. Well, not paper, exactly, but you know what I mean.
There’s a facility on the NaNoWriMo website where you can actually submit your daily words for others to see and discuss in forums. I didn’t do that, for the ridiculous reason that I didn’t want anyone to steal my ideas. Like I said, ridiculous.
The result of me taking those first steps to writing a novel, is that my debut release, ‘I Have Lived Today,’ is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Createspace, both in eBook and paperback formats. Exciting.
10% of all royalties will go to N.S.P.C.C. Children’s Charity
(more details to follow, but if you want to donate also, click here)
And here’s the cover, you know, just in case you’re interested?