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National Novel Writing Month 2011

November 18th, 2011

Emily Blog PicThere’s an old saying that everyone has a novel inside them, and for most of us that poor novel will never see the light of day. National Novel Writing Month is an annual event that aims to help those of us who are struggling to sit down and put pen to paper. “NaNoWriMo”, as it has become known to participants, happens every November and is entered by thousands of aspiring novelists around the world. To “win” entrants must complete 50,000 words in 30 days – roughly 1,667 words per day. This year, after six months of stalling on my, still untitled, work-in-progress, I decided to enter for myself with the idea that it might give me the push I need to finally finish something.

Beginner’s Luck

1,667 words in a day doesn’t sound like an unreasonable feat at first, on average it’s just over three pages of A4. For the first week I found this a relatively easy target as the ideas were flowing and I was fast approaching 10,000 words as I entered week two. Naturally, real life has since gotten in the way and I’ve been restricted to scribbling a few hundred in my lunch hour if I’m lucky. Having just hit the halfway mark time-wise I’m rather behind on just over 15,000 words, but there’s still plenty of time to turn things around!

Soldiering On

There’s something very liberating about the “quantity over quality” approach to novel writing, especially knowing that it doesn’t all have to make sense right now. This works brilliantly for someone like me as I’ve never been much of a planner! It’s the perfect opportunity to experiment with characters and plots that I might never have thought of – a lot of these inspired by ‘dares’ set by other authors undertaking the challenge. The hardest part has been keeping my inner-editor at bay, though from talking to others on the forums this seems to be a fairly common problem. Some have even resorted to disabling their delete key for the duration of the challenge, one sure-fire way to make sure the word count keeps climbing up rather than falling down!

To anyone like me who struggles to find the motivation to sit down and write something substantial, I’d really recommend joining in with NaNoWriMo. There’s something very satisfying about watching the word count increase every day, even if I know I’ll need to rewrite most of it as soon as we hit December!


Emily Ashton is the newest member of our friendly Student Services team. She advises students on their choice of course, how to complete assignments – in fact, anything related to the courses offered by the Writers Bureau. Emily can be contacted using studentservices1@writersbureau.com

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