A decade of drafting – ten NaNoWriMo wins

badgeI completed my tenth NaNoWriMo win at the end of November. This event apparently suits me very well! I tried it ten times in a row and won each time. It just gets my blood pumping, and it also serves as a good way to reset my writing routine and refocus on the essentials.

After the first few years of doing it, I told myself I didn’t have to any more. I might, if it fell right and I had a draft to write. Somehow the timing always worked out – funny that!

The first one I wrote back in 2006 was called Shoot the Humans First – and you can get it free as an ebook, along with its sequel, The Battle of Hollow Jimmy – which I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2007. In 2006 that was my first time writing an original novel, though I’d written novella and novel length fanfics to that point. I only wrote fanfic once for NaNoWriMo, in 2009. I thought “this will be a piece of cake.” Turned into the hardest of my ten to date and I only got to the 50k through sheet bloody mindedness and refusal to fail!

It’s given me five published novels – and I hope I can say “so far” there and that 2015’s will become number 6 one day! Higher Ground, the first one that I later went on to sell was drafted in 2010’s NaNoWriMo. I’ve sold all the subsequent ones – bar this year’s of course. Gimme time. 😀

Higher GroundThe Company ManPatient ZDream For MeMapping the Shadows cover. Art by April Martinez.


I do love a spreadsheet and always create a nice new word count spreadsheet for the event as part of my prep in October!

The totals

So I’ve written over 661 thousand words over those ten Novembers. The highest total (and fastest win) as you see was 2008. The main thing I learned from writing 114,200 words in 30 days was that I should never ever attempt that again. Getting into the 70ks is hard work, but not an load of extra pressure. Some good weekends usually take care of it. And two of my 70k plus totals I count as my easiest rides through the month, 2010 and 2014. But going for that 100k takes a lot more work – especially for someone who isn’t a very fast typist! (I’m so not!)

2009 and 2012 have nice matching totals there.

I only reached The End for four of them. 2006, 2009, 2010, and 2014. (No, terrifyingly, not 2008 and its 114k!) All the rest I had to keep going in without that collective energy and immovable deadline. But I think I got to The End by the end of each year. (The 114k reaced The End at 131K.)


I’ve been thinking of making this my last year. It’s ten years, I have nothing left to prove. I’ve learned many lessons from it about just getting the hell on with writing and getting the words down without too much second guessing. But on the other hand it is a lot of fun! I guess I’ll find out when autumn comes around next year and my ears prick up like someone just sounded a bugle.

Would it be a smart move to go out on top? I’ve never experienced a NaNoWriMo failure. It might be quite demoralising. I can only wait and see what happens in 2016.

But in case I decide not to jump back on that roller coaster next year – Goodbye and thanks NaNoWriMo. It’s been fun.


2 thoughts on “A decade of drafting – ten NaNoWriMo wins

  1. Never say never! I clicked so well w Nano the first year (2013) that in 2014 I did my own Nano every other month to fast draft a novel that year. It really helped me focus & stay in the flow & the novel writing zone. That’s still my preferred way to do a 1st draft – in one concentrated burst of 4 weeks.
    Thanks to you & Anna Martin & UK Meet 2012 when I first met you all, I do Nano. Thanks 🙂

    1. Yep, I’d never say I’ll never do it again. If it just happens that I need to write a draft then, then why not?

      That was a great talk we had at Brighton. Ah, to think I knew you when… 😀

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