Thank you NaNoWriMo, for helping me overcome my Fear

I used to pay out anyone who participated in NaNoWriMo, thinking that anyone who took part wasn’t a real writer. Why the hell would you wait until November to write a novel? Why not write one now, whether that ‘now’ is May or August? I was someone who used to write every day, and scoffed at anyone who thought joining a mass-writing event was cool. Until the day came that I couldn’t write.

I’ve probably mentioned this story many times, but long story short, I endured a fair bit of rejection in relation to my second novel and in the end I lost the will to write. Coincidentally, all this happened around the end of October last year when my WordPress reader was being flooded with ‘NaNoWriMo’ posts. They were like pesky mosquitos, and no matter how hard I tried to swipe them away, they kept on swarming.

I decided I didn’t really have much to lose and the thought of writing a brand new novel was really attractive to me at the time. I could hardly look at my second novel without shuddering.

But what to write?

Considering my mood was slightly black, I eventually came up with a twisted psychological thriller involving lots of murderous revenge – just what my crushed heart needed.

During that glorious November back in 2016, I managed to write 30,000 words of my novel The Other Pretty One, which is now around 70,000 words and counting (I’m in the editing process).

Even though I didn’t get to 50,000 that year, NaNoWriMo made me accountable to the one person that should matter in this game – me. It didn’t matter if I didn’t make the 1,667 words a day, what mattered was that I wrote every day for an entire month.

OK… so there was this one day where I wrote one single, solitary word, but that’s beside the point. Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I was shoved out of my all-too-comfortable ‘I don’t feel like writing’ slump, and was thrown back into the #WritersLife.

And I was no longer afraid to write.

By the 1st December, I still wasn’t completely healed, and I’m not going to lie, it took me a few long months to stabilise my writing legs and finish my first draft. Thankfully, I soon recovered the joy of writing again – it had never truly left, and I don’t think it ever had. Joy was sitting there waiting for me to return, all this time.

This year I’m working on a new novel called The Fear (ironically), a speculative fiction/romance thingy with a twist: what if you feel in love with someone who didn’t even exist?

This is the really bad cover I’ve come up with for inspiration (please note the Canva watermark):

the fear.PNG

I’m up to about 4,000 words, but I’m in no way gloating. I usually start strong until plot dynamics throw a spanner in the works and the next minute it’s Christmas and I’m nowhere near 50,000 words.

But hell, at least I’m writing again.

To all the other brave NaNoWriMo souls out there, I’ll see you on the other side!

Milly out.

47 thoughts

  1. WhT a turnaround! And hey, writing a novel in revenge can work out brilliantly, with that big kick-start and emotional momentum. Your NaNoWriMo manifesto is passionate and clear — thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You go, girl! I’m opting out of Nano this year but I am working on my novel. I am determined to finish all of it before year’s end. After I get out of this ping pong of writing & revising. 97% done. Just need to focus on writing. THEN revise 3 times. I’m very ADD. Best of luck with Nano and all your writings! 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Omg the ping pong struggle of writing / revising gets me every time too! I’m sure you’ll push through and hit that 100% by 31st Dec! Thanks for the good luck 🙂 I didn’t get too far in Nanowrimo this year, only made it to Day 2 (7,150 words) but oh well 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I must admit, I’m a provider of some of those mosquito posts, but last year when I heard of NaNoWriMo I was struggling with writing. It taught me something about making a writing habit, and while my habit wasn’t perfect after last year, I’m working on getting it whipped into shape this year. Also, before last November’s had never finished a single novel. I’m working on number three now.
    Write on!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Exactly! You’ve explained quite eloquently the exact message I was trying to get across in my post 🙂 Nanowrimo can be great at fostering a writing habit. Oh and I can’t believe you’re working on number three already, that’s so impressive!!


  4. Yes I feel the same way! This is my first year doing nanowrimo and it is the first time I’ve worked on my novel in over six months. It feels so good to have a reason — any reason — to have to write every day.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Yes I feel the same way! This is my first year doing nanowrimo and it is the first time I’ve worked on my novel in over six months. It feels so good to have a reason — any reason — to have to write every day. Nanowrimo is reminding me that this is how I should feel every day of the year, because writing is important to me.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes exactly! Even though I’m not going to complete Nanowrimo this year (will I ever!?), it’s really thrown me back into my love of writing 🙂 Here’s to us writing every day for like… forever? haha


  6. Love this. Thanks for posting Milly. Good luck with the month. I’m participating for the first time. I haven’t started off well as I’ve got so much planned for this month but I’m going to battle on. I hope at the end of the month I have the foundation. I will then spend the next months piecing it together.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Really appreciate this blog post. While I wasn’t exactly anti-NaNoWriMo, I approached it with caution because I’m not one of those writers that writes well to a word count goal. Plus, I thought of NaNo more as being good for genres that are more plot-centered rather than character-centered, like the fiction I write. But in having done NaNo 5 times (this year will be my 6th), I find I always get something out of it even though I’ve only hit the 50K word count once. It’s a space to experiment for me, to really get into a story just for the love of it without anything more than word count goals in mind.

    Tam May

    Liked by 3 people

  8. NaNoMoWriMo winner or not, you wrote. You created words where there were none.

    Most importantly, you know you are accountable to you. You’re making things happen and getting things done. That will follow you far past NaNoWriMo.

    And good luck on your latest project! 4,000 words is 4,000 more than you had!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wohoo! Way to shake off the writing slump and go for it! Hmmm, maybe I’ll get sucked in next year. This November is looking ugly…) The story premise sounds creeeeepy (in a good way.) Here’s hoping the writing goes well!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I have tended to disparage NNWM as a gimmick pushed by the creators of Scrivenr and others. I’m sure Lit. Agents utterly hate the phenomena; NNWM turns into NaFebSubmitMo and the slushpile gets slated for an early spring bonfire.
    But, to hear that someone who truly wants to write, experienced a cathartic moment (30 of them) due to the hype, well, I guess even hyped notions can benefit some. So, good on that.
    Don’t you think however, that, given time, you would have probably come around and started writing again regardless of any externally contrived prompt? I would hope so.
    Writer’s Luck,

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve never tried NaNo either. I’ve thought about it, but I think in the end always justified that quality beats quantity. However, as I’ve been struggling with getting words down consistently and often giving into that “I don’t feel like writing” feeling, I think I should put my assumptions aside. I like the way that you and others in these comments have approached the challenge– there is no down side for trying. It might be the push that I need. I’m one day behind schedule and didn’t realize there was a sign up process, but I’m going to go check it out. It can only help. But enough about me. I really like the cover you’ve come up with. The black and white photo against those really pretty colors is beautiful. Thanks for sharing your experience, and for the encouragement.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I admit I chuckled when you said NaNoWriMo posts were like pesky mosquitoes that wouldn’t go away. 🙂 They are, aren’t they! I have soooo many friends that do it, and of course there are the blogs. It’s a big thing. And even though I can’t do it, I’m glad it’s a big thing. I hope to do NaNoWriMo some day … but my experience will be somewhat reversed. I’ve been actively working on a series for the past five years, and there’s already 5 out of 6 volumes in publication. So, I can’t take time away from a current project to start anything new. But I love opportunities to dream up new stuff. It looks like fun. So … someday I will give it a shot. I’m very curious to see how I’d do under that kind of pressure. Meanwhile, it fun to read how everyone else has such a love/hate relationship with pushing themselves to beat the deadline. Best wishes to everyone taking the challenge. ^_^

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Great story! Inspiring! Life can beat you down, but there’s always a way to get back onto your feet. Finding out how isn’t easy, and sometimes it takes an event like NaNo to help you up! Good luck for this month! What’s your username? I’ll send you a buddy request!

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I’ve never seen NaNoWriMo as being seriously about writing a novel in a month, but more as a way of encouraging people to grit their teeth and really go for it, knowing that a whole bunch of other people are doing the same.

    That might mean they manage to produce a first draft, or at least a solid outline of their novel, i.e. the beginning, the middle (where it’s easy to get stuck) and the end.

    Because, let’s face it, most writers have day jobs and it would be pretty hard to hit the daily word target on top of that!

    Liked by 5 people

  15. I had felt the same way, and then I began a daunting foray into a sci-fi novel – way out of my realm! It’s been a year in progress. I’ve written and published other books in the meantime, but this one needs to get finished. So I signed up and must force myself to write this book. It shall be done!

    Liked by 3 people

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