It's November which can only mean one thing : NaNoWriMo!
Like most writers, I've known about NaNoWriMo for what seems like forever. But this is the first year, I've actually signed up.
Before starting, I had planned. I had researched. I had timetabled.
One of the problems with writing is balancing it with life. On my neat timetable, writing is slotted in at particular points each day. In real life, there are no neat boxes. There are unexpected illnesses. There are pulled shoulder tendons. There are spider bites (three in as many weeks when I have never had a spider bite in my life before!). There are parties and holidays. There are fireworks (both literal and metaphorical) and family traditions. There are friends to meet, lunches to be eaten and birthday gin to be drunk.
Life isn't a neat timetable but, I have discovered, that is where NaNoWriMo comes into its own. Rather than trying to write on the day and time specified in my timetable, I'm jotting down words, paragraphs, chapters whenever I have some spare time.
Whilst waiting for an important email, instead of checking out Facebook, I'm researching my novel's locations or writing a quick paragraph. As someone who loves rules, the suggested daily word count hangs like the sword of Damocles above my head. It would be fair to say, that isn't an entirely pleasurable experience and indeed, it adds a little frisson of stress to my day. But . . .
and this is a big BUT . . .
the pleasure I'm finding in writing is outweighing the niggling thought that I may be below my suggested daily word count again.
One of the other surprises about NaNoWriMo is that there is a real sense of community on the website. There are regional chat-rooms; real-life meet-ups and write-ins. Author pep talks are sent to your NaNoWriMo mailbox. Word sprints encourage writing and competitiveness; and don't even get me started on the Dungeons & Dragons / Harry Potter / NaNoWriMo mash-up that sees a growing word count translate to your journey through Hogwarts collecting galleons as you go. The NaNoWriMo website is a richly realised, highly creative world.
So far, I'm impressed and inspired. And my novel is benefitting as a result.