x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

The joy of writing for writing's sake

Writing can be a novel way to spend your time.

Writing fiction has always been a passion of mine. From sci-fi to satire, no genre has escaped my grasp. I fondly remember the first "novel" I wrote, when I was 10, for a school project - the yellowing paper still tucked safely away in a cupboard at my family home. Starring a clumsy witch called Muddlepuddle, it barely fills one page of A4 paper. Fast forward 16 years, and I find myself in the midst of another novel. Only this time, I have to churn out 50,000 words in a mere 30 days. And no, that's not a typo.

Rather the procrastinator, I have always wanted to write a book, but equally, have always found a lame excuse not to. That is until five years ago when I stumbled across the international writing event, started up in San Francisco in 1998, called National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Having started out with 21 participants - who all came from the US - the event has since seen more than 600,000 people around the world take part. And that doesn't include the estimated 200,000 hoping to complete this year's challenge.

The first year I signed up, I managed to write 30,000 words - but every year since, I have failed to write one single word. Despite my fear of failing, I began the arduous task of writing this year's novel at the stroke of midnight on November 1 - all for dramatic effect, naturally. And although it's been as tough a challenge as it sounds, it has definitely taught me some home truths. One, that writing for the sake of writing is surprisingly relaxing, and two, that keeping up the pace and not spending hours poring over one paragraph makes it more fun.

Unfortunately, at the time of writing this, I am rather behind schedule. And by rather, I mean a lot. A few days ago, I came perilously close to giving up, and had to sit myself down and make myself promise to stick it out. I'm very pleased to say that I came through today, managing to write over 4,000 words in just under four hours. Now there's no way I'm going to back out.

And if I ever think of giving up? It sounds unforgiveably corny, but when in need of inspiration, I think back to the last scene of the movie Cool Runnings. Based on the true story of a Jamaican bobsled team taking part in the 1988 Winter Olympics, the parting shot of the sportsmen carrying their broken sled all the way to the finish line has proved to be an inspiration for me. They may not have won any medals, but what matters is they finished. And you know what? I will too.