I have stocked up the kitchen cupboard with tins of food; the fridge is full of chocolate. I have filled notebook after notebook with scribbled ideas and pinned motivational quotes to the wall. My desk is wrapped in a cocoon of warmth thanks to the whirring laptop in front of me and the portable heater next to my chair. I have created a comfortable working environment for myself so that I can become a National Novel Writing Month winner.
To achieve this status I have to write fifty thousand words in thirty days, starting tomorrow. That’s it. There is no pressure to write something good or publishable. Just as well. I do not believe that I have the most original idea for a novel; I do not have something important to say; my characters are not fully formed inside my head and bursting to get out. The reason I am doing this is not because I have to write this novel but because I do have to write a novel. I have tried many times before but have always managed to sabotage my attempts by convincing myself that: This idea has been done before / is too similar to something someone else has written / is boring / not well enough researched / does not fit any genre / is not marketable, etc. Even if I manage to block out all those negative thoughts, there is still one more obstacle preventing me from writing my novel: my underlying fear that I do not have the stamina to write a piece of fiction of that length. By taking part in National Novel Writing Month I hope to remove that obstacle for ever.
At the end of November I will have 50 000 words behind me. When I do finally have a great idea for a novel, something important to say and characters more alive than I am, I will be able to approach the challenge of writing tens of thousands of words knowing that I have done it before and can do it again.