My Writing

Thinking of NaNoWriMo 2016: Choosing a Story

As November approaches, I find myself thinking more and more about NaNoWriMo and what I will spend the month working on. Last year, my first attempt at the challenge went really well. In a way, I think it went too well. I am sure that this time around the rigid regime that I stuck to a year ago will falter, crack and fall apart, destroying my momentum and leaving me wondering how I ever managed it at the first attempt. I find myself feeling more nervous about it this time than I did initially.

Last year

The book I chose to write last year was one that I did not have much investment in to begin with. I came up with the idea for NaNoWriMo, as a story to write within the constraints of the challenge. It had one key idea, one plot, one main character and one point of view. I knew how I wanted it to end, and I knew the general journey that George would go on to get there. In my head it all seemed simple, manageable. And if it didn’t work out, then it wasn’t as if one of main ideas had failed or turned out as some horrible mess that I would never want to return to

My plan for NaNoWriMo this year was to write a sequel to The Magic of Christmas, knowing now from experience that this is the type of story that I can write in this challenging format. But the problem is that I am now invested in the story. It’s no longer a new idea that I haven’t had the time to think about obsessively for months or to grow attached to. It’s now a tale for which I have a whole novel written, and it’s a story I enjoyed, a story that I’m now a bit protective of. Everything has changed.

Now what?

So here lies my conundrum. I can go ahead and write the sequel, The Spirit of Christmas, and hope that my initial plan holds together despite my feelings of attachment I now have towards it. The book is set up for a sequel, after all. But if I am to do this, and work on something I feel protective of, then why not work on one of my other ideas that I passed over last year because of this very same feeling of protection, of “wanting to give them the time to do them justice”? Perhaps the solution is to take the approach I used last year and apply it to one of these other, more daunting ideas and see what happens. Best result, I end up with a first draft of another book. Worse result, well, I can just try again, taking a slower and more thoughtful approach.

I have a couple of months to decide, but I think I will go with another children’s or YA story. It will likely involve a mystical and magical element, but in a different way to The Magic of Christmas. And just like that, the excitement about the challenge is bubbling away inside of me now.

November, I am ready for you.

Chris Phethean is a writer and blogger. He is working on a range of sci-fi, fantasy and adventure stories, and dreams of writing interactive narratives for video games. Find him on and Twitter.


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