Not only Lockdown but also… writing a novel

NaNoWriMo by Nic Golding

I’m currently a woman on a mission. My aim? To write 50,000 of a novel in November as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Or, to put it in a slightly more terrifying way: I have 30 days to write 50,000 words. In the middle of  lockdown. While working full-time.

That’s, on average, 1,667 words a day.

The thing about NaNoWriMo is that it comes along at the same time every year and forces its way into your everyday life. It doesn’t care what other commitments you’ve already got in your diary – you just have to make the time for getting the words out. There are no prizes or publishing contracts at the end of it; just a whole load of sleep deprivation and an increased caffeine intake.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking – lockdown must be great for this sort of thing! All that free time where you can’t get dragged into social plans you’d rather avoid, no commute to work and the perfect excuse to put off your Christmas shopping for that little while longer. 

And I hear you, believe me. But it’s really not that simple. People from all of the world step up to the plate every year in the hopes that they’ll finally finish off that project that they’ve been putting off since last December – and getting involved in the community is also a big part of it.

In previous years, I’ve been known to spend my November Saturdays hanging out with the Leeds NaNo group, trying to ignore how much closer everyone else is to that glorious 50K, drinking copious amounts of hot chocolate and just being around people who understand why I do this to myself. Of course, there are so-called ‘write-ins’ being held online for people to spur each other along, but it’s just not the same.

Those were the times when, lacking in creative energy, I had people saying, ‘keep going’ rather than people saying, ‘well, you don’t have to’. Of course I know I don’t have to, but my ideas sadly won’t write themselves.

That commute that I’m not doing at the moment? That gave me a little pocket of time to compartmentalise what had happened at work that day and get myself into the writing groove. That has gone.

As has that glorious time on a Sunday during which the rest of my household would be out, giving me a chance get away from my home-desk and go build a writing nest somewhere else in the house.

I know, these are first-world problems, or course I do, but COVID has forced me to change the writing routines that I’ve spent years developing. 

And let’s not forget how hard it is to be creative at the moment – whether you write, paint, draw or dance. My Twitter feed is full of authors who’ve written multiple books confessing that they are struggling in this current climate because the uncertainty is so great.

So, if you’re a creative finding it near-impossible to do the one thing that usually helps you clear your head, or is the only thing you’ve ever truly known deep-down you’re good at, I see you. I hear you.

And I’m rooting for you.

Your magic will unleash itself again soon, I promise. For now, we all just have to take baby steps, and remind each other to keep going, one word, one stroke, one musical note at a time.

Nicola Golding is a blogger from West Yorkshire. She writes about living with cerebral palsy over at View from a Walking Frame. She can usually be found with a cup of tea in hand trying to convince her cats that no, they are not allowed to sit on her keyboard…

If you would like to write your own Guest Blog, on the theme of ‘Not only Lockdown but also… ‘ I’d love to hear from you! Click here to see what you need to do. It’s more important than ever that we hear each other. And if you’re reading this, and thinking ‘she doesn’t mean me‘ – you’d be wrong. Get writing!!

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Joan Mudd says:

    I have never heard of NaNoWriMo. How exciting! We all fancy ourselves as authors – everyone has got a novel in them and all that. I think it must be really difficult to be creative to a deadline but kudos to you. I can empathise with you about the commute, Before I retired I used to spend about 3 hours a day commuting. The drive in allowed me to organise my thoughts for the day ahead but the drive home allowed me to unwind, clear my mind and plan. Very occasionally I miss the journey. I am fairly sure that working from home doesn’t really facilitate creativity because convention tells us that the time you spend thinking about what to write, what to research etc would be better spent washing up or ironing, or generally being a better person. Whereas on the commute you are pretty much your own person. I am now going to go on a journey through the blogosphere to read the rest of your posts. Thank you, and if I could insert a smiley emoji, I would.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. SisterStay says:

    Funnily enough, I often get NaNoWriMo emails in my Inbox but since I never signed up for anything – and never knew what they were – I just deleted them. Thanks for enlightening me and well done for rising to the challenge with your 50,000 words!! I will definitely check out your other posts.

    Liked by 1 person

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