I’m in training. I’m in training for a pretty big challenge. It’s not a triathlon, a marathon, or even a fun run.

It’s National Novel Writing Month.

Every November, authors all over the world hunch over their laptops, desktops, tablets, notepads, journals or crayons and try to churn out a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, averaging around 2500 words a day. The attrition rate is pretty high, particularly for first-timers. You can sign up and receive help from a community of authors, whether through official NaNoWriMo forums, or unofficial websites and massive blogging communities. Or, like me, you can buckle down and work on your lonesome. There’s also an unofficial NaNoWriMo in the month of July if November doesn’t work for you.

I’ve never attempted anything like it. I have only ever written one novel-length work. It took me over a year, from the ages of 17 – 19, and it was absolutely terrible. My writing got lazier and lazier because I just wanted to finish the damned thing. It still exists on the internet, thankfully buried in a massive archive. This is going to be pretty difficult – I’m not naturally a novelist. I’m a natural short story writer – 2000 to 5000 words, usually. Not even novella length.

I’m woefully out of practice. I haven’t written anything over maybe 2000 words for years. I haven’t written fiction for years, original fiction even less. I’ve had a zombie story churning around my head for about 8 or 9 years now, worked on it in sections, but never wrote it completely. I felt it was too derivative (which still holds true) and I was more interested in the minor characters than the protagonists. So, I’m going to modify it slightly and just get it out. Surgically remove it if I have to. I loved writing zombie stories when I was 14 (it was fanfiction but let’s not go there) and sadly it still holds up as some of my best ever work. I love the gore and the science and the action.

This time, it’s different. No one is going to see this, except maybe a few trusted and patient souls. I’m writing this for me. I’m going to give it a crack. Sadly, all the outlines and things I wrote years ago are lost or buried, so I’m going to have to rely on my memory and build the world again, which is probably not a bad thing.

So, I’m in training. I’ve got a copy of How Not To Write A Novel in my bag, pulling out all the writing books I own, reading through all my zombie books, finding new ones. I must admit I’ve yet to find zombie fiction I like (I’m a video game and movie zombie kind of girl, plus wonderful non-fiction and pseudo non-fiction zombie books like Zombie CSU and, of course, The Zombie Survival Guide) so I’m going to keep looking. I’m deliberately trying not to find my old work (which is in random notebooks and buried deep in the internet) so I can start fresh. I’m using my downtime at work and at home to write snippets of all different things here and there, just to flex the writing muscle. Instead of the C25K, this is my C250K.

I’m not expecting I’ll succeed. I’ll be pretty bloody surprised if I do. But it’s all in the trying. Maybe next year or the year after, or even whenever I choose, I can try again. It certainly doesn’t hurt.

P.S. For your reference, the post above is 586 words – about one fifth of the daily average I’ll need to produce over 30 days.

Wish me luck!

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