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National Novel Writing Month – Valerie Healy Part One

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Valerie Healy

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This will be my first year taking part in NaNaWriMo.  She has gone mad, I hear you say.  Why would you want to write 50K words in 30 days? It is probably a little insane to give yourself such a hard challenge but that was part of the appeal for me to be honest.  As a new writer, I kept hearing that you should write about what you know.  While that is great advice, I found I struggled to develop any kind of writing habit at all.  So this got me thinking about the possibility of writing in a way you are used to.  Not what you know but how you know. Coming from the world of finance and monthly deadlines, I am use to being put under pressure to produce a set of accounts at the end of each month.  My life in finance for the past 20 years has been a series of tight deadlines and monthly or quarterly targets. I remember one financial controller I worked with saying that when she died she would have Month End, Quarter End, Year End, and The End written on her headstone, as that was always what we seemed to be doing. So what better way to write than to a monthly deadline? NaNoWriMo seemed to be the perfect platform and challenge for me to get me started properly. Over the weekend having a wander through the NaNoWriMo website, I found this little gem in the Dublin Region forum posted by one of the members.  A Report Card. https://docs.google.com/openid=0B_TTUswlfK_5YTk1MjZmMjgtYmNjOS00ODNkLTk5NDUtNTQ3ZWNjZThlYmUx. Now I really feel ‘at the office’, having a spread sheet with lots of lovely formulas in it to track my progress in Microsoft excel.  You can imagine my excitement now as I waited for the NaNaWriMo clock to count down to the start! The second appeal of NaNoWriMo for me as a beginner is the fact that no-one is judging your work and the whole concept is that you just throw caution to the wind and jump in.  I’m not writing a novel now to be published, worrying over whether the sentence is any good or my grammar is correct.  I am going to write freely and just say what comes into my mind.  I am writing my novel for me, to get my 50K words down and say at the end of the month, I did it. I do hope, of course, that I write something that I will use again, but for November, I am free to say what I want to say and I will worry about the quality of the writing in the 2nd and 3rd Drafts.  I can add the magic later if I need to, but who knows, now that I have freed my mind to all the restraints I placed there so far, it will be magic just writing every day for the next 30 days. I hope to reach my 50K words or more and have worked out my daily word count to a level I believe I can achieve.  I plan to take every Sunday off.  I love my Sunday out for dinner and I like my Saturday evenings too so the plan is to write Mon to Sat and reward myself with Sunday off.  I also hope to get to some of the NaNoWriMo meetings in my area and fully immerse myself in the whole experience. Like most other people participating, I still have the day job to think about and therefore plan to get up extra early each day and get as much of my word count done in the morning while everyone is still asleep.  This way, I hope I will start each day with that feel good factor of having achieved my word count and if I don’t get it all done, all is not lost, I have the evenings to get back to it and hopefully reach my daily target then. I have done very little planning for my first NaNoWriMo experience, this might prove to be the wrong approach but then I will know better for next year.  All I have done so far is use the idea I have for my novel and developed my characters as I am hoping they will lead me through the month.  I know where the book starts and where it will end, it’s just the bit in the middle that’s blank.  So having free rein for the next 30 days to just write, write, write, I am hoping my characters will tell me how we get from the start of the novel to the end. And sure if we get lost, we will be getting lost together and it will be fun and exciting to see where we end up. At the end of November, and my first NaNoWriMo experience, I hope to have written 50k words or more towards my novel that will be of some quality and I can develop into something publishable after a few more drafts.  I also hope that by writing daily at a set time, I will develop a solid writing habit which is something that I haven’t managed yet.  They say that doing something every day for more than 30 days becomes a habit and, for me, I really hope that is true. I may have some catching up to do with old friends in December,  but I am hoping that I will meet and make lots of new friends along the way  and I will have achieved something in the year that I can be proud of.  I have even roped by 8 year old daughter in to take part in the Young NaNoWriMo and she hopes to write 5,000 words of a novel too. So all those interruptions are gone from my house and there are now no excuses not to write, write, write… It’s 7am on the 1st of November and my word count is now open so let the madness begin!

About the author

(c) Valerie Healy, November 2011

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