Why 2020’s NaNoWriMo Will Be Different

Earlier tonight, Boris Johnson announced that the UK would be going to a second national lockdown. I know people across the country will be devastated – friends included – but I’ve been feeling a resigned calm. Here we go again.

For a lot of reasons, 2020 doesn’t feel like a year that I’ve lived, but a year that I’ve watched, like looking at a storm through a window. In no time at all, we’re at the end of October.

And the eve of National Novel Writing Month.

National Novel Writing Month (or Na-No-Wri-Mo) is a event where participants push themselves to write 50,000 words before the final minute of November 30th. This is usually a novel, but could be a collection of short stories or some other writing project. I’ve taken part before, to not-so-awesome effect. It’s the good kick any procrastinator needs.

A lot has changed in 2020. Face masks. Social distancing. Home working. The national and global culture has shifted and will never be the same. Like everything else, this year’s NaNoWriMo will be different too.

I’m not talking about being in lockdown. What would that make me? Your grouchy professor? You’re at home all day, grrr, do some work grrr… Forget that. More time to write is nice, but let’s not pretend this is voluntary. (And I’ll still be working, so there’s that.)

I’m talking culturally.

If you lurk in twitter’s Writing Community, or on Authortube, you’ll have noticed there’s a stereotype that writers procrastinate. A lot. It’s definitely an issue I have and one of the reasons I bypassed 2019’s NaNoWriMo.

This year feels different, at least to me. This year has been stop-and-start. Plans have been made and cancelled. I’ve needed to take the opportunities as they come. I even managed to go on holiday to Spain, leaving two days after travel restrictions were lifted and returning the week before it was announce all Britons returning from Spain would have to quarantine.

Too much of this year has been spent watching. Opportunity is there, but it doesn’t last. There is so much uncertainty.

I’m not going to pressure myself to win NaNoWriMo or even make the goal, but I’m going to give it my all and I’m optimistic I’ll succeed. It doesn’t matter if I work full time, am redecorating, or have a dozen projects on the side. Another year will soon be gone. It may be the strangeness, anxiety-fuelled year of our lives, but time will run on.

Here I am. Ready to write to the final minute.


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