NaNoWriMo approaches …

Sadly I won’t be doing National Novel Writing Month this year, I’ve just got too much on. But I did complete it for four years and was Brighton (and Hove actually) coordinator for three of them.

If you want to write a novel but aren’t sure if you can, especially if you’ve become proficient at short fiction but keep falling down when you attempt the longer form, NaNoWriMo can be a fantastic way to develop the skills and techniques you need for novel-writing, at little cost. And local chapters (pun intended) make sure you have support and encouragment as you try to build your novel.

From 1 November you commit to writing at least 1666 words a day, every day, until 30 November. That gives you a 50,000 word narrative. It’s not exactly a novel, and it certainly won’t be pretty, but you learn a lot about plotting (or the lack of), character and world building, and bloody-minded determination along the way.

In the past I’ve used a number of incentives to get ‘my’ writers writing – one of my top tips to get through the task yourself is to become a coordinator as it forces you to deliver what you’re asking of others: there’s nothing like accountability to get those 1,666 words down on paper or screen. I’ve used threats, cajolery, tears and incentives to get Brighton’s writers to write with me! One of my favourite incentives was to get some T-shirts printed and give them out at the TGIO (thank god its over) party. One year I gave them to the fastest finishers, another I chose to reward the most wordy – doesn’t really matter, as long as people have a tiny tangible reward to aim for, as opposed to the big nebulous one of fame and fortune via publication, they perform much better. My printers are online T-shirt printing specialists: and they will print as few as just one T-shirt (I generally get six) and their prices are great.

It’s a tiny outlay that can move people into productive writing, and I’ve always loved being a NaNoer … I shall really miss it this year, but I shall be cheering people on from the sidelines.

And I nearly forgot to say - I have an article about writing with a sense of place in November's Writer Magazine. You can buy it in Borders ...

... and, by request, kittens

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