On writing a Novel in Thirty Days

I haven’t blogged much in the last month choosing, instead, to save all my words for NaNoWriMo, which came to a close last night. I am writing these words as someone who has just written a 50,000+ word novel. I never thought I’d say that! I feel incredibly smug about having finished, not just because I reached the Sacred Word Limit, but also because I feel like the process of writing taught me a great many lessons.

Firstly, if you make an entire chapter of your book a conversation over email, you can spend a great deal of your words on the formatting of To, From, Date and Subject. But that’s cheating…

Seriously, it was a curious experience shutting myself up in my study every night after school and every weekend and just trying to get some words down. Some days it was so easy my fingers could barely keep up and I was averaging a thousand words every forty minutes. Other days, I thought I’d never be able to say anything at all and it was a real struggle to sit down and type anything. On a good day, the words seemed to be coming, not from my head, but from somewhere behind me – I was catching them as they flew past. Whole pieces of dialogue came to me from somewhere else, as though I was merely transcribing a conversation I was eavesdropping on. Some of the things the main character says about her friends and her husband, where so cruel I couldn’t believe I’d thought them up myself. Some of them were so funny, I wondered the same thing.
On days when the writing wasn’t coming so easily, I borrowed fairly heavily from real life. This is just one of the many reasons why I won’t be sharing the book with anyone I love.

Writing, they say, takes dedication. I always thought this would be the hardest thing about writing, I’m not a very organised person, and I find it difficult to commit to anything for a long period of time. But the times when I was writing, and writing well, were a real joy to me. I can write. I am a writer.

Throughout the month, the thing I was most bowled-over by, was the huge amount of support I received from the people around me. I’ve written before about why I felt the need to so publicly announce on facebook quite how many words I had, or hadn’t written each day. I needed to do it, at first, so that I might be spurred on by the threat of having to tell my facebook friends that I had caved and given in. But soon, the many posts I got from friends who were following my progress were the best thing about writing. It was beautiful to bask in their awe, their love, and I was really spurred on by them. Wordman came to make me tea as I wrote. The Husband cooked, cleaned, did my laundry and hugged me lots (he does all that anyway, even when I’m not working to a ridiculous deadline!). All the friends I saw over the month talked to me about my writing, suggested car chases and brutal murders, asked me what it was about. My tutor group, usually so lethargic and apathetic, asked on occasion how it was going. Without these people, I’m not sure I’d have finished as soon as I did.

Finding that you have over 50,000 words in your head that can be out down on paper is a truly incredible experience, and one which I recommend to anyone. I’d heard nightmare tales about losing my social life and staying up all night to meet deadlines. I didn’t find any of that I real issue, which maybe only suggests I don’t have a very exciting social life in the first place. I finished with days to spare and, whilst I can’t say that my mental health is unscathed by the incident, I feel a real sense of achievement.

As for the book, it’s a piece of cliched Chick Lit. But, in my humble opinion, it’s the best Chick Lit I’ve ever read…

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