“I can’t run a marathon, but I can do this.”

It’s that time of year again – season of mellow fruitfulness, or whatever it is; back to school weather. Time to write a novel.

I know it’s still September, but this year I seem to be exceptionally excited about the prospect of NaNoWrimo. I’m actually prepared. I have been filing away last year’s pep talks, I’ve even thought about writing my Christmas cards – and it’s all because, for the first time ever, I am going to PLAN.

I am normally a NaNoWriMo ‘pantser’ – that is, I write by the seat of my pants and let the characters take me on a rollercoaster ride of mayhem, until some sort of a plot turns up, and then we lurch around together until we find an ending.

Last year this worked well: I did a bit of a genre-shift just to keep things exciting, but the end result didn’t work at all. I can’t help it. I can’t write comedy-erotica. I am a thriller writer. So this year I am going to take the characters and the setting from last year’s efforts and make it scary. A few weeks ago, I had an idea for a twist – a pretty big one – and I think, in order to carry off something so audacious, I am actually going to have to plan it all out to make sure it works. All of this planning, whilst it’s satisfying my need for notebooks and coloured pens, charts and mind maps and endless sticky notes, is a new thing for me and I’m just hoping that when it comes time to write the blinking thing that I don’t get bored and give up.

In order to make it through November, I need company. I need fellow novelists to celebrate and commiserate with (at this point, I’m looking at you – yes YOU – with hopeful puppy dog eyes. Just go with it).

This article from the BBC, last year, gives a pretty good flavour of a NaNoWriMo write in:

Does Everyone Really Have A Novel In Them?

Although our local write ins are possibly a little less pressured – we go for shorter sprints and probably spend too long chatting.

I know I bang on about this all the time, but it doesn’t hurt to try it one more time. How about you? Have you always wanted to write a novel, but never found the time? Now’s your chance. What is it you’re waiting for?

You can DO THIS.




  1. Hmmm … You’re tempting me, I must say! I would like to join in this time round, but don’t think I have the ideas or staying power for a whole novel myself, though. The people in my head have issues that are resolved comparatively quickly, and to make up the word count for a whole novel means that I’d be putting in loads of irrelevant padding. Unless I could think of a different idea for something like Arthur Hailey’s Airport or Hotel – lots of short stories tied by a common theme. Maybe …!

    Or maybe I’ll use November to finish/tidy up the half-dozen shorties and actually submit them to magazine editors instead of letting then languish in the depths of my computer, so not really Nano, more Nasswrimo!

    Good luck with yours, Elizabeth, and as always I shall look forward to reading the end result! xx

  2. Aha! Having thought about it a bit more, the perfect setting came to me in a flash overnight. And anybody who knows my alter ego name will guess it – of course, just right for me. I have the mc and two other characters already, and the antagonist (I think that’s the right term – the baddie, anyway) is beginning to take shape. Ooh, I’m getting a bit excited now … Thank you Elizabeth! xxx

    • Funny how if you let your brain work things out, it comes up with some exciting ideas! I always get mine lying awake in the morning in that blissful half hour (usually only at weekends) before I have to get up. I let my mind wander and my characters start having conversations with each other. Of course, the sensible thing to do would be to write all this down straight away, but sometimes things slip through and I forget about them.

      So good to hear you’re on board, Linda! YOU CAN DO THIS!

  3. I’m seriously tempted to give it a go, having read your blog post but I’m pretty sure my copy edits are going to arrive bang in the middle. That said I’ve been working so bloody long on this novel it might be quite fun to write something totally different (maybe YA?) for a month. Hmmm…

  4. I’m also doing Nano this year and finally going to write the book I started 20 years ago.

    So helpful to read the thoughts from someone who’s completed this multiple times and the comments from everyone else helps too – just knowing how this makes everyone else feel and talking about it….

    A friend of mine (after me telling her I was doing Nano) recommended I check out your book Into the Darkest Corner so I just bought it. Probably safe to say I may not get around to reading it until after November but that’s something to look forward to 😀

    All the best to everyone who’s taking part in this. I’m a bit excited with a smattering of EEK! 🙂 x

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