On the 4th June this year, I finally finished my lifelong ambition to write a novel. It was a very rough first draft and needs a hell of a lot of work, but I did it – the one thing I’ve been dreaming of doing since I knew what books were.

Now comes the editing – and I haven’t got the foggiest idea what I’m doing. It feels a bit like one of those nightmares where you’re wandering around naked screaming “I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING”. I have been avoiding my novel since the day I finally finished it, because I’ve got no idea what to do next. Which bits to cut, which bits need to be completely rewritten, which bits need a little tweaking to be better. I HAVE NO IDEA. When people ask me how the novel’s coming along (I’m looking at you, Grandma) I laugh nervously and go “I haven’t looked at it…” How the hell are you meant to know where to start??

So naturally, I have resorted to procratinating. The thing I do best. And what better way to procrastinate than use the month of November – National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) – to write an entirely new and different novel! I tried to attempt it with my now completed novel two years ago, but didn’t get beyond the first 9,000 words I already had written up. The year after that I tried to write a teen school drama, but didn’t get beyond the first 3,000. This year I am determined to give NaNoWriMo a proper go and try to reach the 50,000 word target in a month. Just to prove to myself that my dissertation novel wasn’t a fluke and that it can be done. If I write at least 1,667 words a day I’ll be well on my way to hitting that target.

I can hear you screaming “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, JUST FINISH THE ONE YOU’VE GOT!” as my Grandma no doubt is, as my own brain is, but what better way to come back at my first draft with a fresh pair of eyes than by completely focusing on something else? I ended up finishing my dissertation novel by a circle of procrastination anyway – to procrastinate writing that, I moved on to a short story, then to procrastinate that I moved on to the second NaNo idea, then to procrastinate THAT I moved back to my dissertation and managed to finish a first draft. I know that it seems a stupid thing to do when I’m so close to having properly achieved my dream and send my novel draft off to agents, but my brain defies expectations. Thanks, brain.

Who knows? Maybe I will exceed my own expectations and go back to the first draft I’ve got written anyway. If not, I have a whole month to write another new idea’s first draft down on paper. Part of the challenges I’m going to face is the same as with my first novel draft – I’m terrified that I haven’t got enough to write about for an entire novel. Let’s hope I do – hopefully I can actually commit to this NaNoWriMo! Wish me luck!

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