Thirty days… and how many words?

December 1st and the National Novel Writing Month for 2018 is over! Just in case you don’t know, November is the month to challenge yourself to write 50,000 words, 50,000 new words in thirty days. What’s the prize? Pride and enormous satisfaction and sense of achievement! What’s the point? There are many points, among which is to get back into the writing habit if you’re jaded, to kick-start a new project, or the Himalayan reason – because it’s there!

This is my sixth year and for the first time I prepared for this challenge… not cheating in any way, I didn’t write a single word of my new story until November 1st, but I cleared the decks of other things which might give me the excuse not to write. I also decided to bite the bullet and get up at six every day and do nothing but write, sitting in my nightie while the rest of the family slept I would pound the keyboard – so no distractions, no excuses no ‘reasons’ to stop what I was doing.

The first year I attempted the challenge I began my first Radwinter novel – never dreaming there would be a sequel, let alone a series. This year I have come back to Radwinter but a slightly different one… In the books so far, Thomas’s family and what happens to them has been very important element in the narrative… how he met his wife, how the family grew, the relationship with him and his brothers, the story of his parents and grandparents and generations further back.

This story ‘Winterdyke’ is very different; Thomas is alone – not for any unfortunate reason, but because I wanted this story to be about him doing a very particular sort of investigation. It harks back to the country house mysteries that Agatha Christie and other earlier writers entertained their readers with (I hope my story will entertain my readers!) Thomas is staying in Athelmond Grange which belongs to a rich family (it has to be, doesn’t it?!) and initially he is commissioned to write their family history… However and of course, there is something else on the agenda…

So NaNo is over, and I’ve reached and passed the 50,000 word target but my book isn’t finished. As usual, despite my best intention, I’ve over-written, too many extra scenes and passages which will be abbreviated or excised, the story slimmed down. I have come to the conclusion this is the way i write because those extra words aren’t wasted or padding, they help create the scenes and the personalities in my mind… Unlike many of my other books I do have a clear idea of how it’s going to end, and some of the incidents which may happen on the way… It’s just the rest of the journey to get there!

Here’s a link to NaNo in case you’re interested for next year – there are lots of other writing activities on the site before then though!


  1. sebby holmes

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I have a couple of cook books published (See Cook Thai by Sebby Holmes and Eat Grub recipes by Sebby Holmes) and I have to say I relate totally with your approach to writing. I do however admire the fact that you draw on your imagination. Writing and designing recipes are so much easier. Although I have to say I am very good at procrastination. Good luck with it all! Cheers Sebby

    Liked by 1 person

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