I am done!

I am done and it feels fabulous!

I’ve finished the month of November writing in excess of the 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo. I never ever thought I would get there, but loved the challenge from the beginning.

The NaNoWriMo challenge is to write 50000 words during the month of November. The size of a small novel. Its a global challenge and has been around for a number of years. The headquarters are in San Fransisco United States which funny enough is also where my daughter currently lives. I had the luxury of visiting her in May. I could have popped in to say hi in person :-). But at that stage, I had never heard about Nanowrimo. I actually can’t recall how I found out about it. Maybe through the writers’ groups online that I have joined this year. I’m pretty sure that is where I heard about it first. I loved the idea and needed something to help me achieve what I had set out to do at the beginning of this year. To write a novel.

So I joined in September and read up about what to do. Initially not a lot of information other than what other Wrimos suggested. Many advised planning your novel so you would have it set out before you started. The Planners approach. Others said they just started writing with no idea where they were going. The Pantzers approach. Most did something in between.

Seeing that I work full-time as a planner I liked that approach so during October I started looking at the novel I had already started, and worked out next chapters and main events I was going to write. It worked till I ran out of steam. I turned into a Plantzer. Half planning and half writing by the seat of my pants so to speak.

I found that once I started NaNoWriMo the creative part of me really came alive. Each day I had a target set for myself pending on what was going on in my life. If I knew I had to attend something, like a music festival or a night out, I would make sure I had planned for that target wise. That way I would never feel like a loser if I didn’t reach the average target every day.

By sitting down pretty much each day I found even on the days where in the past I would have stopped myself thinking I was just too tired or I just did not feel creative, I always managed to write more than I thought I had in me. The act of making myself sit down seemed to make the words come. Even on days when all my brain wanted to do was to be a couch potato and not think at all.

Working full time I made sure my daily week targets were always less and I would then catch up on weekends having more time and energy. I found Thursday nights for some reason were always the worst and on a couple of Thursdays I just gave myself the night off. I think it’s important to not always force yourself but to sometimes allow yourself a rest. It feels like pure indulgence and made me feel better.

I loved the community spirit of NaNoWriMo. The many online and real-life events that are organised to help keep you going. The writing buddies online that I connected with and the way we all supported each other by little motivational notes along the way. It’s a very supportive challenge to participate in and never do you feel you are alone or made to feel like a loser. It’s not a competition, the aim is just to write and to get into a habit. Any words written is better than what you had before, but the goal of achieving the 50000 is always the carrot dangling in front of you.

It’s certainly motivating to see other writers sprint along and finally reach the 50000. One of my buddies managed to get to the 50000 in our first week and ended up writing around 195000 words. That is massive. Even if you had plenty of time and no full-time work to drag you down, to write that much in a month is a huge achievement. His words were “Nanowrimo starts a fire in me and I just write like a madman”. You can say that again.

My local library also had some great events on during this time. They really stepped up and produced some great author and book presentations as well as the local write-ins. Write-ins are great as you get to meet other wrimos in the same boat as yourself and you learn from each other. Especially when you are a novice like me with so much to learn about the industry, By talking to other writers you pick up ideas on how to edit your draft, how to publish, what to do and what to avoid. So many resources that you may not know about but can be so valuable to you on your writing journey. Even just meeting with like-minded people and talking about your writing interests and good books to read is valuable. Getting out of your own head for a while and filling it up with some interesting and valuable bits of information. Plus of course, meeting some fantastic human beings along the way. Writing can be a lonely passion and it’s essential I feel to stay connected with people. After all, they are often our source of inspiration 🙂

My novel is now finished. First draft at least. With my starting point of 15000, I now have a decent size novel and a sequel in my head. I have printed it up and will put it aside for a least a month before I start the editing and re-editing and hopefully publish. I am thinking I will self-publish and once that is done I may approach some publisher just to see If there is any interest. I would be a huge pat on my back if someone scooped it up.

Writing a book has been a lifelong dream of mine and I have tried on a number of occasions. Never short of story ideas, just never the stamina or enough motivation to actually continue the story. I think I needed the motivation from others, from writers groups and online podcast etc, to actually keep me going. Also the fact that I am not getting any younger, so if I really want to get a book written now is the time. I told myself at the beginning of this year, that this year was my year for finishing a book. And I did it. For once a New Year resolution actually was followed through.

I feel super proud and its such a great feeling to actually have achieved what I set out to do. To know that I can actually do it. I can write a story long enough for a novel and I loved every minute of writing it.

For the rest of this year, I will just relish and enjoy the euphoria I feel and get a bit more writing done on my blog here. I’ve been neglecting that since I started the novel in November. I also want to get out there with my camera again and get some good shots. I’ve missed that but I just haven’t had time to fit it in. My priority was writing in November which meant any other passions or social life was reduced to a minimum.

So to anyone thinking about how to get that novel started and finished I totally and wholeheartedly recommend participating in NaNoWriMo. Go out there join a writers’ group, connect with like-minded people, submerge yourself in writing and you will get there. I have absolutely enjoyed the ride, more than I ever imagined, and have learned so much about my writing style. Best of all I met some beautiful and interesting writers and I have produced that first draft of my novel. What a way to finish this year.

Happy writing everyone


  1. Grats on finishing with a first draft! Your post makes me wish that I’d done NaNoWriMo again this year. I ended up mired in the middle of my story, unable to find my way to an ending, so it’s great to see that you have something usable!

      1. Thank you, Sal. You, too. Hopefully, we’ll have a second draft before the next NaNoWriMo. 🙂

        I realized, I like (enjoy) NaNo. It follows Stephen King’s view on writing. On his book, he insists on writing his first draft with the doors closed.

        I tried another program and a few weeks down the line, it didn’t make sense to me. Apart from the hectic monthly $39 for a year (???) (which was meant to be discounted already), weekly writing is submitted for comment and feedback by the community, which is a bit much as writers are already writing. The advice and “lessons” are not different form what you get online for free and Stephen King’s book is a third of that monthly and once off and the advice is much better and from a successful author who has published amazing books. On the other hand, the program that came with an expensive price tag has “authors” who are only either self-published or their published works are not novels. For some reason, I did not think to research on the writers from the program before joining. A huge waste, actually. It’s a lesson. I taught me to be wary and selective. There are many who claim to know and “teach”… those who teach can’t do and those who do can’t teach…???

        1. We can all be wise in hindsight but all writing is good. Look at it as an investment in your writing journey and just move on from it 🙂
          I really enjoyed Stephen Kings On Writing too. His point on just sitting down to write to get the writing going is so true.

          1. You’re right. Nothing is a waste if we know how to turn things around. I also now know better to feel tgecwater before diving. Thank you.

  2. Hats off to you, Sal!
    That’s a great achievement. Now your turkey is in the oven and you can add the spices and flavors and tweak out the hiccups! All the best!

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