Posted by: barbaraneill | November 26, 2011

A Novel First Post

NaNoWriMo winner logoAfter writing poetry and short stories for more years than I care to remember, I finally decided to write a novel. It’s a labour of love based, mainly, on a true story and I have been thoroughly enjoying writing it. In spite of this, I decided to put it on the ‘back burner’ for a month. Why would I want to do this? Well I have discovered NaNoWriMo; National Novel Writing Month.

Until just over a month ago, I’d never heard of NaNoWriMo but a dear friend of mine; the talented Matthew Munson, has recently published his first novel, “Fall from Grace” and was deliberating over whether or not to take part in this year’s NaNoWriMo. Intrigued, I decided to find out what it was all about.

In a nutshell, the challenge is to write a novel, from scratch, in at least 50,000 words, between 1st November and 30th November. Of course, this is quite a challenge and, although I was considering taking part, I honestly had no idea whether or not I would be able to ‘win’; those who complete the challenge are referred to as ‘winners’ , but there are no prizes, except, of course, personal satisfaction. I took the plunge and signed up.

I was wide awake just before midnight on 31st October so, while others were commemorating Halloween, I was poised by my laptop, ready to start work on the epic, “Small World”. I had a vague outline in my head and I knew exactly how the novel would end, assuming I could make it to the end, of course.

As soon as midnight had passed, I started typing. I had expected to experience writers’ block, and struggle with the self discipline I knew I would need in order to complete this marathon but what I actually experienced was unbridled enthusiasm for writing. I couldn’t wait for an opportunity to present itself for me to continue with my novel.

There were only two ‘wobbles’ that I experienced during this journey; the first, after a few thousand words, when I honestly couldn’t see how I was going to spin out my story to make it last for at least 50,000. (the second wobble was when I was taken ill, but that’s another story). I took a leap of faith and just carried on writing anyway and it was then that I discovered a curious thing; I was eager to write whenever I could, because I wanted to know what was going to happen next!  

The NaNoWriMo website is packed with features, designed to support the writers through the month of November, including an excellent forum, in which I was reassured that it’s quite normal for novelists to create characters who then decide to go off and ‘do their own thing’ leaving the writer trailing along behind, and wondering what will happen next!

Make no mistake; we may create characters but they take on a life of their own, as we merely ‘channel’ their adventures.

I am delighted to say that I crossed the 50,000 word finish line yesterday, and completed the novel this morning. Incidentally, the ending isn’t as I had originally planned it!

Now that it’s done, I thought it was about time I started a blog.



  1. well done Barbara, very proud of you xxx

  2. Very good. 🙂

  3. I look forward to reading it Barb. All the best and I hope your well now.

    • Thank you, Gary; still working on getting better 🙂

  4. I’m very proud to have been mentioned in your first blog post – and I have a strong view that your talent will outshine mine in many ways. Let me see it soon!

    • False modesty, Matthew! You certainly will get to see it soon; (is today soon enough?), because I clearly remember you offering your services as an editor! xx

  5. Very good site and well done for 50,000 words! Just the amount would scare me!! Good luck with the competition !!

    • Thank you, Cheryl. It’s not a competition, as such. Everyone who crosses the 50,000 word ‘threshold’ is referred to as a winner. It’s really more personal and a great learning experience.

  6. What an amazing achievement! All credit to you. It just goes to show, doesn’t it, what we can achieve with a dollop of self-belief and a tankload of determination. Would love to have a read of it…

    • Thank you very much for your kind words. I’m hoping to publish it soon; it’s at the ‘fingers crossed’ stage!

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