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Artyness columnist Barbara Henderson is getting out of the house to take part in an annual global challenge to write 50,000 words


By Barbara Henderson

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Oh, it’s been a bit dreich, hasn’t it?

But I often feel better for going out.

Barbara Henderson.
Barbara Henderson.

These days, I often traipse down the Market Stairs in the rain, wrapped up warm, laptop bag in hand. The reason? I am on my way to my local library to get some writing done in the reference section. I can write at home, of course, but the truth is that I will spend most of my time there sauntering past the fridge in search of another reason to procrastinate.

No, this month it has been the library for me because I am attempting NaNoWriMo.

National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a daunting but straightforward challenge: to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days.

Now, each year on November 1, hundreds of thousands of people around the world begin to write, determined to end the month with 50,000 words of a brand-new novel – that’s 1667 words a day. I don’t always manage as much as that, and I do not beat myself up over it. But I am joining a worldwide tribe of fellow writers, and that in itself is motivating.

For the past few years, I have begun a new project in NaNoWriMo – it has become a tradition. It works for me because of its collective nature – we’re all in it together.

As I write, I am still buzzing from an event I attended yesterday: Crime Doesn’t Die, a clearly popular crime writing event featuring Highland crime writing stalwarts Margaret Kirk, Helen Forbes and the inimitable Lin Anderson.

Chaired expertly by Pauline Mackay and held in the newly refurbished Inverness Creative Academy, it was such a treat to be part of a live audience again. There was even a signing queue, and a long one at that – I know that for a fact because I was second-last in line. Panel events are among my favourite event formats – the variety brings something a single performer could never deliver alone.

Artyness columnists Liza Mulholland (left) and Barbara Henderson.
Artyness columnists Liza Mulholland (left) and Barbara Henderson.

And today I met my fellow Artyness columnist Liza Mulholland for coffee.

We have known each other for years, but our paths rarely cross in person these days, and it was high time for a catch-up. We are never short of things to discuss – books, music, heritage and culture, plus a host of mutual friends provide plenty of stimulating material. We share the column, of course, but who knows – perhaps there could be other collaborations in the future?

All I know is that it is always brilliant to touch base.

So, let’s not go it alone!

Step out of the door! Don’t forget that November is also the month of the Scottish Book Trust’s annual Book Week Scotland, now in its 10th year.

I will be at Dingwall Library on Tuesday evening at 6.30pm for a book discussion, but other options include events by the Ullaverse and Highland LIT, so browse around.

All around the country, events will take place to celebrate the written word from November 15-21. Go on. Join in!

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