Written by Fiona Longmuir


A novel month

November is National Novel Writing Month and Fiona Longmuir has decided to pick up the gauntlet and pen 50,000 words in 30 days. She’s going to need lots of tea. And a tiara.

typewriter and desk
This month, all over the world, writers have pledged to write 50,000 words in a single month. I suspect these writers are out of their minds. I suspect this because I am one of them.

I’ve always wanted to write a book and from time to time I even strike on quite a good idea for one. But the actual execution… well, let’s just say I’m not so good at that part.

Being the world’s biggest procrastinator, I tend to work best when I have something to aim for. And good lord, National Novel Writing Month gives you something to aim for. A hell of a something. A something that is frustratingly, maddeningly close to possible. So I’m giving it a go. After all, all I have to lose is my mind.

“But how will you juggle this monstrous task with having a job and a life?” I hear you cry. Fear not, dear reader, I have many cunning survival techniques. For example, today, I ate four packets of Parma Violets and panic bought three candles. So I think I’m pretty much nailing it so far. OK, not quite nailing it yet, but here are a few things I’m counting on to help me out.

Tea: I basically can’t function without tea anyway, so I’d imagine my intake this month is going to be frankly horrifying. Fortunately, that seems to be a widely accepted part of NaNoWriMo. In fact, the website has a ‘Caffeine Abuse’ badge, which you can award yourself when you know that you’ve definitely taken it too far.

Cheerleaders: I’ve told almost everyone I know that I’m taking part this year. This is partly to apologise in advance for me inevitably turning into a giant asshat at some point during the month, but also because I need them to cheer me on. The boyfriend is rather excellent at this and is currently pretending that doing all of the chores and dealing with me being a total dragon for a month is completely worth me having the chance to exercise my creativity. Bless his heart.

“I suspect that, rather like Alice’s experience in Wonderland, almost everyone who chooses to do NaNoWriMo is a bit mad. And how am I to survive madness without whimsy?”

A writing bunker: I’m one of those people who works best when I’m entirely surrounded by pretty things, hence the panic buying of Matalan candles. I occasionally pretend that I work just as well sitting on my sofa as I do anywhere else but the truth is a cosy little writing bunker works wonders for me. *adds 4000 fairy lights to Amazon basket*

Time management: OK, people who know me can stop laughing. I can totally manage my time, I just choose not to. I plan to carve out chunks of time on weekend mornings so that the load is less heavy during the week. I also plan to use my daily hour-and-a-half commute to write and plan instead of tweeting about other people daring to exist at 7am.

Whimsy: I suspect that, rather like Alice’s experience in Wonderland, almost everyone who chooses to do NaNoWriMo is a bit mad. And how am I to survive madness without whimsy? Whether it’s a tiara worn while writing or a buzzer to press every 500 words, I imagine that by the end of the month, I’ll be resorting to all sorts of hilarity to keep myself going. Suggestions absolutely more than welcome.

What am I writing about? Well, I couldn’t possibly say. Oh, go on, you devils, I’ll tell you a little. The Waiting Room is a young adult novel about Jessica Hart: an excellent young woman who unfortunately finds herself a little, well, dead. After a prank goes wrong, she finds herself stuck in a bureaucratic nightmare of an afterlife, where the angels are as corrupt as the demons and the only way out is unthinkable. And there’s a boy. Because with me, there’s always a boy.

There’s a lot to be worked out and even more to be written down but I’m actually really excited to get started and see how it turns out. If you would like to follow along on my journey, I’ll probably be charting my slow descent into insanity on Twitter. Also, you can check out my NaNoWriMo profile page, which contains a selection of badges, a rolling wordcount and even a cheeky little 200-word excerpt from the book. Knock yourselves out. And for the love of God, wish me luck.


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Written by Fiona Longmuir

Fiona Longmuir is a professional storyteller, reluctant adult and aspiring funny girl. When not getting naked in tube stations and binge-watching inappropriate TV shows, she can be found scribbling at the Escapologist's Daughter.