Mass Motivation

If you want to get motivated – to do anything – join a group of like minded people. Individually we struggle to motivate ourselves, to exercise, to lose weight, to train for an event or to write a book. Did you notice the last one WRITE A BOOK. Get a group together though and we become a mass of motivation, we cheer each other on and we congratulate each other on all our little achievements. It just seems so much easier.

So it is with NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. It’s November and probably half of the writer’s in the world are at this moment putting pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard, in their efforts to write their 50,000 word novel in the space of 30 days. It doesn’t matter what it turns out like, the point is to churn out the words. You can edit later.

NaNoWriMo began in San Francisco in 1999 with 21 participants encouraging each other to complete a novel in one month. Six succeeded. Last year there were over 250,000 participants around the world with almost 37,000 of them completing their 50,000 word novels in the month of November.

There are very few rules, if you consider it a novel, so do they. It’s not really too late to check it out and check in, here, you’ve only lost two days (and if you’re in the northern hemisphere it’s only one day really), and you’re smart enough to catch up.

Me? Oh, you expect me to have signed up. Well, maybe next year. This year I’m sort of unofficially doing it, I’ve set myself the challenge of writing a further 20,000 words of my memoir. I’ll let you know how I go.

Have you signed up for NaNoWriMo? How are you going at this early stage?


I vaguely mentioned this a few weeks ago, but I figure it’s now time to come clean and explain.

I’m going to let you all in on a little secret, I figure if I put it out there it’ll be hard to back out. Not impossible mind you, maybe just a tad embarrassing.

I’ve always wanted to write a book. The problem is, I have trouble focusing and the last twelve months have been out and out procrastination, maybe more than twelve months, maybe a lot more.

I was going along quite nicely, writing snippets when the mood took me, which was quite often. Some of the things I wrote were longer than snippets, although how do you define a snippet? Is it a paragraph, a few paragraphs, a few pages? Who knows and I really don’t feel the need to go to a dictionary, on-line or the old fashioned book variety, which I still have by the way, to find the meaning. So, I was producing a few reasonably coherent bits of writing, with an idea forming, somewhere in the recesses of my mind, that I may put them all together one day.

But, as I said, I have a bit of an issue focusing. With these snippets of my past, reflections on my life, I felt that there was no hurry to produce anything publishable. I would just continue as these thoughts popped into my head and maybe one day I might even produce a memoir. It’s a genre I have always enjoyed reading and I even took a workshop on writing memoir. I had a focus.

In between times I tried my hand at fiction. Not an area I have ever been successful in, I tend to start off with a flourish but then run out of steam. I have lots of beginnings, I just have trouble with middles and endings.

It was at this point that I started to come unstuck. To be honest I got lured into the world of technology. It all started with an on line course. I’d decided that maybe it would be good if I could make a bit of money out of writing so I took a course in magazine writing. Then I took another in travel writing because I loved writing and I loved travel. Seemed perfect, I would have a career in travel writing. Enthusiasm was in full swing. I spent a fortune on magazines so that I could figure out angles and pitches to suit the various publications and then I started pitching, but it seems that there are a lot of travel writers out there and it’s a hard industry to break into. I was working full time and I just didn’t have the time that was needed to commit to the constant pitching needed to get anywhere.

Ok, it wasn’t working and my patience was wearing thin. Next option – start a travel blog. Brilliant idea, I could work at my own pace, no deadlines and no publisher accepting or rejecting my ideas. No pay either, but that didn’t matter, I had a full time paid job and writing was just for me. What I failed to realise though was how addictive blogging would become. It’s no exaggeration to say that it consumed my waking hours, it literally took over my life. I even stopped reading in favour of sitting in front of the computer. Now that’s sad and when I realised what had happened I had to do something about it.

Which set me to thinking, first of all I would have a weekend without the internet. No Facebook, no blogging or reading other people’s blogs and certainly no checking my blog stats. I would only use the computer for writing. From Saturday morning to Sunday evening. How hard could it be? Rhetorical question there people, I knew how hard it was going to be.

I managed quite well, mainly I guess because I had a fair bit on that weekend but as a long term solution it would take a bit of coming to terms with.

If you’ve stayed with me this far, I am getting to the point, which is …. after all of those delaying tactics I’ve decided I can delay no longer.

I have seriously committed to writing a memoir !!

I’m writing it to celebrate my 60th birthday which will happen, whether I like it or not, next year. When I looked back over my life my initial reaction was one of ‘I’ve lived a pretty ordinary life really,’ but others seemed to think otherwise. I guess my decision to go trekking in the Himalayas next May to celebrate the aforementioned birthday proved them right.

My intention with the memoir is to combine an account of this coming year with memories taken from my past. Not an A to B autobiography but an intertwining of episodes in my life including my decision in my fortieth year to return to study which culminated in me gaining my PhD in my mid 50s.

It’ll have a little bit of family history, the preparations for the trip, my excitement in this planning stage and how this trip affects me both physically and mentally. This is a leap so far out of my comfort zone that I have no idea how I am going to react to the experience but I’m hoping for a positive outcome as there are already thoughts of future treks floating around inside my head.

Tentatively titled How the Hell did I get here?, I figured someone may just be interested enough to read it.

So, there you have it … a commitment!!