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Nick Ang

Writing a book during NaNoWriMo 2020

Today I’m setting myself a hairy goal of writing a book in November. I made the decision just now to participate in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). So far I’ve only done minimal preparation like reading Take Off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker, while many other writers have already finished preparations in October, or Prep-tober. I’m not bothered by this since this is a personal challenge, not a competition, but I do feel like I could be more prepared.

Nanowrimo 2020 poster from the store Poster from

It’s not easy to write 50,000 words. Or I should say, it’s not easy to write something that when read, if read, does not make someone roll their eyes or want to bite their tongue. That happens to be my goal now.

Why, though? To be completely honest, I don’t know. I mean, I cannot articulate this desire to apply myself at writing a made-up story. For years now I have watched people participate in NaNoWriMo, but I have not once had the courage to undertake the challenge myself. What I do know is that I have waited long enough just to try and that I would like to try it at least once.

I want to give myself a chance to see how much of this desire to write a book comes from me romanticising stories (books?) and how much of it originates from something more meaningful within me. By the end of November, I should have the draft of my first novel at hand for me to look back on and judge, well, everything.

Writing a story with words is not supposed to be difficult. You have a concept for a character to grow from an emotional point A to an emotional point B and you just have to be at your desk and type out the story. But writing a story is difficult because we want to be respectful of people’s time and write an entertaining and truthful story with a tight plot. The world already has many books, so if someone decides to pick up a copy of ours, we ought to be able to say that it should be worth their time!

For the record, though, I have to admit that part of me feels like an imposter. Apart from the few writers I follow on Twitter, I know nobody else who is a writer. None in my family is an author. Few of my friends have a blog but none of them writes. What business do I have with writing fiction? I haven’t even read that much compared to many of my friends who are voracious readers. Who am I to think that I can write a novel?

That said, another part of me feels like I am already a writer. I have a track record of writing and publishing my thoughts on this blog and my old blog quite consistently since 2015. And over the last four months, I’ve published one post here every week. I have also shown to myself that I enjoy sitting alone at my desk tapping away on my Freewrite. My regular and hopefully effective use of the written word to communicate gives me a degree of confidence.

me writing with the Freewrite modern typewriter on my lap I will be making full use of my Freewrite this month, that’s for sure!

So, anyway, that’s it! Today is the 1st of November 2020 and I’m participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time. I currently have a story concept that I think still needs a day’s work to become a backbone for an outline. Then it’s click-clack-click-clack time! I will, as someone in the NaNoWriMo community recommends, focus on writing “draft zero.” That’s the goal this month. Editing will be after November.

In case you’re interested to see how this unfolds, feel free to look at this Twitter thread. I will post updates there every time I work on the book this month.

Wish me luck! And in case you are also in your sweatpants at home accompanied by a cup of coffee or tea, trying to write your novel, I wish us luck.

Click here to see my progress.

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