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Gracefully Stepping Down

On Thursday night I made what was an incredibly hard decision to make.

I decided to stop striving for 100,000 words this November.

You may have noticed the complete lack of blog posts the last week and a half. If you’re used to seeing me on the forums, you may have noticed my complete absence from those. My time management this November has tanked. Completely and utterly. My word count stuttered, including days where I didn’t write at all. I kept telling myself that there was time, I could catch up, that writing 6,000 words a day every day around a full time job and a social life was perfectly do-able and normal.

I was wrong.

It’s a week to go until the end of November and as of Thursday night, I was 21,000 words behind my personal goal. If I didn’t write yesterday, that would jump up to almost 24,000. The sheer size of that number scared me to the point that I couldn’t write. I felt too pressured to even get the words down. I started avoiding writing. I told myself I had the time off work and I deserved the rest. At 11:30pm on Thursday, I knew I was defeated by my own ambition. I’d written 144 words that day and was more concerned with checking Twitter than trying to get more words down. When I looked at the time I knew I would use to write over the next few days (train journey, write-ins, etc) and worked out what I could expect word count wise to write during those times, I wouldn’t even hit 70,000.

The only way for me to do it would be to throw myself into my novel and push myself until I was out of energy and even then still keep going. And I could reach 100,000 that way. I’d drain myself completely, but I could do it.

But this weekend I’m home visiting my friends and my family ahead of my birthday next Tuesday. I’m here to relax, take a couple of days off work in the process, catch up with my people here in Manchester and generally enjoy myself. I can’t do that if I’m freaking out over my 100,000 word goal. So, I decided in order to celebrate my upcoming birthday, in order to spend quality time with my family and friends, I had to gracefully step down from my target, rather than go down flaming on November 30th when my brain melts.

However! At 8pm on Wednesday evening, I did pass 50,000 words. For the 10th year in a row. And I am epically happy about that. No matter how many NaNos you do, passing that golden number always gives you a rush of adrenaline and a feeling of sheer job and accomplishment.

And even without reaching my insane target, I’ve still had an amazing 10th year of NaNoWriMo. I’ve joined a whole new region, continued to ML, reached 50K with a full time job and without taking time off to hit that mark, and made some great new friends. There are definitely worse ways to spend your 10th year of NaNoWriMo! And as I finish writing this post which will go live in the morning, I’m sat in my old region of Manchester, surrounded by old friends and new faces, discussing dressing one of the current MLs as Rudolph so he can pull someone around an ice-rink in a sleigh.

It’s been a brilliant year overall.

But d’y’know what?

I may try for 100,000 again next year.

Because ultimately, the madness that NaNoWriMo creates inside you never really goes away.

It’s the Final Countdown!

I just spent a few minutes trying to type out the little “d’d’doo doo” bit of the next part of that song and then I admitted defeat and gave up. It’s not easy! But now you all have it stuck in your head so my work here is done.

In some parts of the world, NaNoWriMo 2012 has started.

Isn’t that scary?

If you’re in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, China or nearby countries (sorry my world knowledge is severely lacking) how is it going? Reached 1667 words yet? Have you reached more? Are you still writing?

Here in the UK, we have just over two hours until kick off. That’s just over 120 minutes. That’s really not a long time. I’ve just set up my Scrivener project for my new novel. It has a title and I’ve made several blank files to split my novel up into and I’ve created a file for a character list and another for a timeline. I’ve decided that I’m not writing in chapters this year (I’ve always written in chapters but those chapters vary from 1,500 words to 10,000 and the chapter breaks tend to be in horrible places). Instead, I’m going to write roughly 5,000 words in one file, then move to the next one. It seems odd, but I’m essentially ensuring that if one file corrupts, I’m only losing up to 5,000 words, rather than everything. (I’d be backing up as well, obviously, but you can never be too cautious!)

I doubt that last paragraph made sense to anyone but me. I apologise. I’m a little giddy in anticipation of November.

I’m also in the process of doing a ton of laundry so I don’t have to think about it for the next week, and after posting this I’ll be tidying and cleaning my room. Especially my desk, which has become a general dumping ground for everything I own.

If you have time before NaNo starts, I recommend you do the same. Your Future Self will thank you most graciously when you’ve torn between writing or ensuring you have clean socks.

I’ve been watching the official @NaNoWordSprint team on Twitter go for it all day with Wrimos who are already writing. It’s made me increasingly excited. The wonderful people running that Twitter have given me energy to get through the day. If you’re reading: you guys are awesome. Truly. You got me through a long day and are keeping me eager to stay up until midnight.

I want to say “I’m ready” but are you ever truly ready? Even in my 10th year NaNoWriMo makes me nervous. It’s still such a huge leap of faith. Of commitment. But even with the nerves, I’m excited for the challenge of tackling it alongside a full time job. It will definitely be a different experience. I’ve told far too many people that I’m trying for 100,000 words this year. I’m going to reach 100,000 or lose a hand trying.

Remember, whether you write 500, 5,000 or 50,000 words this November, you will end up with more than what you started with.

You will be a winner.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. – Mark Twain


Bring on midnight.

The Forums Have Landed

Did you know that the NaNoWriMo website re-launched yesterday? Wait… you didn’t? GO! GO NOW! What rock have you been hiding under?


I woke up at 7:35am yesterday morning to find an email informing MLs that the new forums were live and they hoped by informing MLs first, any major bugs would be fished out before the hoards arrived. However, anybody who happened to wander through the website could clearly see it has been updated.

I was nearly late for work yesterday.

The NaNo forum re-launch is absolutely one of my most favourite times of the year. It’s like returning home from a really long holiday or coming back from university – everything is kinda different and there’s some new people around but there’s lots of familiar faces and threads and you settle straight back in like you’ve never been away. And seriously, yesterday, I was like a kid on Christmas. I dove straight in and ran around the forums happily squeeing and posting and definitely not getting ready for work which was why I was nearly late.

It’s really hard to explain to a non-NaNoer why it’s exciting. I mean, it’s a forum that looks kinda the same as it did last week but with all the threads wiped. Well, it’s more than that. It’s the start of the new season. Everyone knows that when the forums have relaunched, it’s NaNo time. By wiping all the old threads and clearing out the cobwebs, newbies who have never been on the forums before can join in just as easily as veterans because everyone is starting from scratch. Sure, you might not know who Mr. Ian Woon is or exactly what the Travelling Shovel of Death is, but you will very soon find out and you’ll find out with a whole host of other new people whilst the veterans delight in sharing their thoughts, memories and secrets.

NaNoWriMo really is just one big amazing family, when you think about it.

I’ve been a Beta Bugger this year and it’s epic to see all the things we’ve tested and broke and tested again come into play. Features which were turned off last year have come back in force! You can now jump straight to the newest post in a thread, hide the forums you’re not interested in seeing, have a signature and (all being well) an edit button! You know how much we desperately need an edit button again. I seem to make way more mistakes when there’s no edit button to help me out.

The forums are a huge part of the NaNoWriMo world. You can get literally anything you need on there. You want to celebrate? There’s a forum for that. Moan? That too! Need help researching? Yup, got that. Want to hang out with NaNoers your age? All there! Got an awesome novel but no title? Well, just ask! It is your one-stop-shop for all things writing. It’s one massive support network and the great thing is that no matter what time you step onto the forums, there’s always people around thanks to NaNoers coming from all around the world! You can even find people to chat to about anything but writing and to share fandoms with (which is a godsend when you come from a place where people think you’re nuts to have visited Cardiff to see Ianto’s shrine…)

If you’ve never been to the forums before, go now. Seriously. I’ll see you in a couple of hours. I couldn’t do NaNo year in, year out without the forums. They are my lifeline for part of the year, a drug that I only need for October and November.

Remember, my forum username is Kaleidoscope27. If you see me around (which, believe me, you will) feel free to say hi.

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