I Didn’t Do NaNoWriMo, But…

I didn’t sign up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November this year, but I did receive an enormous amount of encouragement from those who did. I hope that all who entered (and those who didn’t) were able to make the most of the opportunity to advance their current writing projects in the same way that I did.


To tell the truth, I’ve never actually signed up for NaNoWriMo, but there’s something about the last few months of the year that fires up my novel-writing desires and makes me forge ahead with whatever novel I happen to be busy planning or writing.

Regardless of whether I’m at the beginning or the end of the writing process, the coming of Spring (I live in the southern hemisphere) heralds a time of new buds, green shoots and the warmth of the growing season. While I am not a gardener like my sister, her enthusiasm rubs off on me, albeit in a different sphere. The promise of a productive season followed by a new year ahead spurs me on to think that I’m invincible, a prolific spewer of words, and that everyone else is going to LOVE what I’m busy with, as much as I do.


Of course, it could also have something to do with the fact that this is the time of year when the South African Writers’ Circle (SAWC) has a particular competition that I’ve always loved entering.

I joined the SAWC during 2007. Later that same year, I finished the wordy, meandering novel on which I had been working for almost four years, and submitted it to a publisher. Finally freed from the shackles of that novel, I began casting around for a new project. To my delight, I found that the SAWC’s November competition was for a synopsis and first chapter of a novel, so I set about turning another long-held idea into my second novel. I composed a synopsis for it, wrote the first chapter and submitted it.

It was awarded first place.

Thus began my end-of year pattern for the next few years. In due course, the First Chapter of a Novel competition moved from November to January of the following year. By January 2012 I had settled into a seasonal pattern. In the course of five competitions over five years, I entered the first chapters of six novels, three of which won first place, and the other three each won a placing in the top four.

I haven’t entered anything for the last three years, because I’ve been busy. Not just working on the novel that came third the last time I entered the competition, but busy with other things. Anyone who follows this blog regularly will know that I had a few small delays while packing up my life and moving to Australia, but now I’m firmly back on track.

The novel that’s been so long in the making is finally nearing completion after just a few months in Australia. I don’t want anyone to bust a lung holding their breath, but I am almost at the end of the ninth draft. Yes, it’s nearly done. Another paragraph or two to round up the final resolution, another read through, and it will be finished and on its way out into the world in time for the New Year.

At the end of January 2016 I hope to be free to enter my favourite SAWC competition again, with a totally new story. I have a lot of work to do before then.

Watch this space…


8 thoughts on “I Didn’t Do NaNoWriMo, But…

  1. MH!!! 9th draft??? I have a 90,000 word novel sitting here waiting for a 2nd draft! Now you’ve scared the tar out of me. How many drafts do you usually do, Susan? And how can you not get just plain sick of what you’re working on? 😮


    • Calen, I always write several drafts, although this novel has had more than most because the story is a little more complicated.

      It takes place in two time frames and has two POV characters for each time frame, so there were a few drafts in which I experimented with changing POVs until I found the mix that worked the best for the story I was telling. I also have the modern story interspersed with the historical story, and at least two of the drafts were of the modern story only.

      While writing this novel, I kept a daily progress register so that on my next one I have some idea of where I am in the process, because sometimes it gets a little overwhelming to think that I’ve spent so long on something and have so little to show for it!


    • Thanks, Jay. I learned the hard way that I shouldn’t place too much emphasis in life on competitions, but when the competition is a springboard that encourages me in a specific direction and boosts my writing output, then the effort is definitely worth it.


  2. It’s so good — just when I’ slogging along a bit — to learn that you are motivated, energetic, and realizing your goals, Susan. After all the changes you’ve made and had to adjust to recently, it gives me hope that my writing energy will return as well. I still love to write, but so many things seem to interfere with my time to do so; or, perhaps better put, I allow so many things to interfere. Either way, I loved reading this post.


    • Thank you, Aunt Beulah. Your writing energy will return. There are so many things that encroach and steal time away, and sometimes we have to give in to them and accomplish other tasks that need to be done, but they sap our energy and it takes time to recover. I think it goes in waves, and at the moment I’m riding the crest of a wave that I didn’t expect to pop up out of the blue and take me with it. Glad it did!


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