Carla Acheson

Historical Fiction Author

I’m committed to writing 50,000 words in 30 days. This is Nanowrimo. The National Novel Writing Month of November where each year thousands of writers participate on the Nano website in the hope of winning.

What are the prizes, you ask? Well depends on what you’re looking for.

For me Nanowrimo is just about discipline – I’m the kind of girl that can go off track. I lose momentum, wander off to crochet a jumper, and before I know it I’ve forgotten what my outline was about.

I need that discipline now and then, especially when I’m interested in so many creative pursuits. It can drive a girl nuts!

For many participants, the prize is just the glorious moment when they hit the 50K mark and upload their novel to the Nano site. That in itself is a huge achievement.

Just doing it is winning. You even get a badge and certificate, yay! Writing a book is hard work and in 30 days, it’s even harder.  It’s a goal fought and won even if it’s a first draft of nonsensical slush – and slushy it often can be, but the gem lies beneath. Did you know that there are many famous nano winners who went before us?

I’ve always wanted to do Nanowrimo and never quite had a ‘good’ November in order to do it. There’s always been some other distracting stuff going on in my life. Last year I moved 2,000 miles to Scotland from the med. Yep, not great nano timing. And this year I even arrived at it late. I got sick and flu-ey, took some mopey days out, felt a bit better, hit the nano website by chance and realised that it was Nov 8th. Was I too late? Hell no, some writers have only just signed up too. I would just have to get going. Fast.

I’m over halfway there,  but I digress, I had a few chapters written before I started, but my goal is to ‘finish’ the novel and trust me, I still had pleeeenty of words left to write.

That’s why I entered and that’s my challenge! Completion. I know that it’s hard for people to find time to sit down and write. I’ve been in that place too, where I’ve wanted to do it and found so many excuses, but eventually, you find yourself growing tired of hearing yourself. One day you realise that things just don’t get done until you do them. If I knew I couldn’t do it, I wouldn’t.

But I know that I can and I’ve spent years overcoming blocks, doubts and obstacles, learning about what kind of writer I am. It can surprise you what you discover about yourself when you just keep on going.

Here are some things about me, they help me to succeed and stay on track.

  • I’m confident.
  • I self-talk myself into making things happen.
  • I always write what I’m passionate about. It fuels the steam for longevity.
  • I choose a story that I want to explore and know that only I can tell.
  • I look at the big picture and have total belief in what I write. Even when I’m actually unsure about it I still have faith in it.
  • I don’t look back at what I’ve done, just keep going forward.
  • If today wasn’t so good and things all went to hell, well tomorrow is another day and I can write a really moving chapter.

Most days I can get anywhere between 2 to 6,000 words down. Then I’ll read over them at another point in the day and try to swiftly improve any obvious crazy grammar or typos.

Trust me there’s going to be loads. But that’s fine, I’m human. The 30 day deal makes a perfectionist learn to swallow some imperfections.

The best thing nano will give you is that it will eradicate the ‘fear’ of making a mess of things. You will. There is no way you can write a novel in 30 days and come out with a polished story. So with that worry gone, all there is left to do is WRITE.

So what’s this story all about? Ah, that’s another blog post.

Friends who know me well enough will know what to expect with regard to my style of writing, but I’ll throw in a little bone and reveal it’s not historical fiction! I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone here and trying a new direction.

I love a risk and I love a challenge. My novel has a new voice, a new generation, and I love the idea of that!

Plus, it’s like diving into a different pool when you’ve got a bit tired of swimming round and round the same one, and by the time I’ve done all the laps I’ve learnt something new about life.

So I’ll see you all soon on the nano side!


Carla is a successful historical fiction writer and workshop leader. When her fingers aren’t tapping on piano keys, she’s relentlessly guiding ambitious new writers to the finish line with heaps of inspiring advice and motivational techniques.


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