2006. Mcfly had just released their third studio album, Motion in the Ocean.The release of the last Harry Potter book was less than a year away.
And in November 2006, I signed up to do my first ever NaNoWriMo.
For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo takes place every November and encourages writers to write 50,000 words in a month – if you’re being precise, 1667 words a day.
Before signing up for NaNo (prompted by a school friend who’d found out about it) I’d written lots of fanfiction and short stories. I knew I wanted to write. I loved writing, I’d always been writing, but I hadn’t yet written my first novel – I didn’t think I could.
And so I did my first NaNo. It was a game changer in many ways. This was 50,000 words of original characters and story. It sucked – of course it did and I daren’t open it and look back at it now. But it taught me a lot – about pacing and character and plot and completing a draft. There is nothing like the sheer thrill of completing a draft and realising that you can do it.
There were more NaNo’s following that – seven in total, but I also started to write properly outside of November (to the extent where I stopped needing NaNo and it stopped working so well for me, but that’s another story – I wrote about why I don’t do NaNo anymore here). Writing these drafts taught me so many things and despite the fact that I barely looked back at the drafts again, and honed my editing skills on other projects. Looking back now, I see that my first NaNo novels share many themes with my current work.
It’s hard to believe that ten years have passed since those first tentative steps. I’m still working on my writing, and get that step closer, I hope, to seeing my work on a bookshelf one day…
Good luck to everyone taking their first tentative steps with NaNo this year – or diving in once again for the second, third, fourth time… or whatever it may be!
Title quoted from ‘Mcfly: The Musical’, by Tom Fletcher.