Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Never say Never for NaNoWriMo

Last time I met up with my SCBWI critique group some of us were gearing up for NaNoWriMo. 
National Novel Writing MonthI have never managed to commit to this before as it seems too difficult and scary, although I have tried Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo, but floundered after a week. This year I felt a bit brave.

I decided to put my current manuscript on the back burner for a while and I thought I might just test myself to write something new and NaNoWriMo seemed like a glowing opportunity. One of the writers in my group is a pro at Middle Grade Historical Fiction and she had her ideas already primed for a November type-fest. When the group learned that I have a history degree they asked if I would ever consider writing historical fiction too. “Oh no, never,” I laughed saying that I was too lazy to research it all because I would want it to all be historically accurate and that takes a lot of effort. At least writing fantasy I can invent a new creature or a magic fix for whatever corner I have written my characters into. A case of my world, my rules so to speak.  Although I do love a bit of historical fiction to read or a period drama on TV, the double whammy of Wolf Hall on BBC and Kindle is bliss. But to write it is hard work and I know because I have written many history essays at Uni. For me half the fun of children’s fiction is the freedom to write whatever crazy stuff inspires me.

How wrong could I be? Yesterday I was struck with an interesting concept for MG fiction inspired by a recent school trip I helped out on, a trip that I think I enjoyed more than anyone in the entire school!  I began typing away, really pleased with myself caught up in the excitement of a new idea and a kooky character to get to grips with. I ditched my trusty third person, allowing my character to do all the talking for a change and now I’ve gone and landed myself with fantasy and two historical periods to research if I am going to pull this book off and somehow keep it all in the first person.

Suddenly my old manuscript looks inviting. But no, why should I restrict myself to one groove and keep inside it? When I was at school you were told to specialise, stick to one thing and aim for that and only that until pension age. For me it was English Lit and History and I ditched the rest, which meant that I left school with no idea what to do and ended up in a Media Agency with all the other people who had no idea how they ended up there. Why should we narrow our choices and be too afraid to try new things?

If you had asked my younger self if I would ever write a book I would have laughed and said “Never”. Never seems to be my short sighted word. I have already made a leap beyond where I thought my life would go. So maybe the key thing I should realise is that people evolve (like Pokemon)  Image result for pikachu evolutionand once you decide to be a writer you can branch out into different ages and genres and even scripts if you do your research.  

The media were outraged when JK Rowling dared to write an adult book, but why? Should she only write about Harry Potter for ever and ever and live in a Hogwarts lookalike castle? She would become as paranoid as Mad Eye Moony! There’s nothing like the buzz of a new idea filled with potential and hope and who are we to pigeon-hole people and stifle creativity? 

So November may be almost over, but let your creativity live on. Try something new even if it is difficult and scary because it might just be the best thing you ever do. After all you can always return to what you always did before. Never be afraid to fail and dare to follow your dream.  


  1. Your NaNoWriMo book sounds fascinating-- two historical periods, fantasy, and first person narration, I definitely want to know more! And I completely agree with you about trying new things, and not being afraid to stray from a specialism. I hope your writing month has gone really well :) Victoria x

  2. As someone who is clearly comfortable sticking with one thing, I'm super impressed by the way you've branched out ... great stuff!