My Writing

A Tale of Two WriMos: NaNoWriMo2016 and the Inner Struggle

NaNoWriMo2016 Participant: Chris Phethean

Like the sequel to some kind of action adventure book, I find myself undertaking a new NaNoWriMo journey this year, only this time for NaNoWriMo2016, the stakes are higher, the tiredness is greater and the days are passing away faster than ever before. Will I make it to the word count in time?

This sequel does have a happy beginning. Following on from the joyous climax to last year’s instalment, I have self-published my first novel, The Magic of Christmas, and the sales and downloads on Amazon are encouraging and incredibly supporting to my own confidence as a writer. I still cannot really believe that on a bunch of people’s Kindles sits a book written by me. A book that was largely written in a month.

If you’re still in doubt about what NaNoWriMo can bring, then I feel this is a perfect example. Before NaNo 2015, I viewed myself as an aspiring writer. Now, having had a novel completed for the best part of a year, and now available to the world, I do not. I am a writer. Whatever other roles I have in life at the moment do not matter. I have written a book. I’ve sold a book. I am a writer, and no amount of the doubtful anxiety plaguing my head can change that now.

So it was with great anticipation that NaNoWriMo2016 arrived and once more I could go through the daily routine of getting up earlier than normal to get words in the bank before work. The evenings would be spent finishing off the remaining words, keeping me on schedule and driving me towards my target. But what would a sequel be without some dark conflict, rising within, to throw a few barriers in the way?

In many ways, the conflict is a concoction of things all happening at once, none of which are really that bad at all. Being a Christmas novel, my new release requires promotion this month; regular scouring of social media to spread the word and designing graphics and posts to share. I’m a year further into my job, and the workload has increased with changes to module timings meaning all my teaching is occurring this semester. From just the first week of NaNo this year, I am exhausted. I’m following the same routine as last year, and it is working – so far – but I am finding it more intense.

It may be the day job that I’m finding more tiring, or the addition of marketing a book as well as writing 50,000 words in a month, but whatever the cause, it makes the writing that little bit more challenging. Ah, yes, the writing. Unlike last year, I do not have a plan for where I’m going with this story. It is, if it goes well, something I am even more excited about than last year. But last time around I knew what would happen at each stage. This time I am thinking hard just to figure out where to go in each chapter.

How will this part of the story end?

Now, as in any good story, I will not give up. I will continue. I am determined to win NaNoWriMo again. And I will continue to promote The Magic of Christmas as much as possible. I will use every second that I can spare. They’re both exciting things that I want to succeed with. My work as a writer, or ‘the other job’ as I like to call it, can take over my entire life in order to achieve them.

How is your NaNoWriMo going this year? Are you speeding along towards 50k? Let me know!

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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