National Novel Writing Month (www.NaNoWriMo.org) takes place every November and I really can’t recommend it highly enough.

NaNoWriMo (as well as camp NaNoWriMo, now held in June and August) give one the opportunity – and encouragement – to attack a novel, to squeeze out a first draft in a month.

After a life spent waiting for something like this, I’ve hurled myself into it and, using the programme (and, in March this year, pretending to) I have written five first drafts in the last thirteen months.

And yes, it is down to perspiration, not (so much) inspiration. Doing this once will teach you how easy writing a novel actually is, doing it several times in a year rams home how much better you’re getting over that year.

An artist friend once told me that if you draw something every day, it doesn’t matter if it’s a skinhead or a kettle, after six months, you’ll be amazed at the difference between your early attempts and today’s. Plus, after six months, even the casual observer should be able to tell which are the skinheads and which are the kettles.

I read a really good quote from Ernest Hemmingway earlier – “there is nothing to writing – all you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Oh, and those five first drafts? ‘At home, at work, at play’ (July 2011), ‘The last film’ (November 2011), ‘Light entertainment’ (March 2012), ‘No feeelings’ (June 2012) and ‘Dystopian’ (August 2012).

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