Reflections on Novel Number One -- Amy Arora

What did you do while you were in lockdown? 

I listened to a lot of audiobooks, I went for a walk every day, and I played board games with my boyfriend. We ate and drank too much. I tried and failed to master French. My boyfriend made model aeroplanes. And I wrote my first novel. 

I’m sure I’m not the only one who wrote a novel during the pandemic. In fact, I know I’m not. It was an explosive time for creativity, as we all stared into the void and wondered what was coming next. For me, my self-employed, pre-child life, and the requirement to stay home all the time, plus the fact that I had just moved to a new country and didn’t have any friends yet, made the writing process nice and easy. 

Proudly wearing my Winner t-shirt. Everyone who completes it wins!

I did NaNoWriMo and I took it seriously. I knew that if I missed one day I would be toast, so I got up at 7am throughout November and wrote my words, then quite often got back into bed. I planned the first 25,000 words and I invented the rest as I went along. 

Recently, I revisited that novel in the hope of editing it up to a standard that could go out into the world and I found that what I wrote is completely insane. It’s a YA thriller, if such a thing exists. The first half is set in Pompeii in 79AD, the second half in Brixton in the present day. There is no clear narrative perspective, there’s a poorly explained religious conspiracy, a casual murder thrown into one subplot and, of course, an unnecessary car chase. I guess it’s kind of The Da Vinci Code meets The Hunger Games, done badly. 

I’m still glad I wrote it though. If nothing else, it demystified the novel-writing process a little. This thing which seemed impossible before is now within reach. For me, it requires a proper outline, daily writing, and something to keep me accountable. And an acknowledgement that the editing process is an important step, even if it’s a lot less fun than first drafting. 

Some words of motivation

And, slowly but surely, my writing is improving. I’ve written one and a half novels since. 

No-one will ever read my NaNoWriMo novel of 2020 and I think that’s a good thing. It was just for me, a way of drawing out the child within, whose favourite pastime was to make up stories, before impostor syndrome and the fear of what others would think came along. That imaginative child was still there, just waiting to invent. And even though I have to rein her in a bit every now and again, she’s at the heart of all my creativity. 

Amy Arora is a writer and freelance editor. You can read more of her writing at and find out more about her editing work at


Peter Leyland said…
'An explosive time for creativity'. You are right about that Amy. You certainly have made considerable progress in novel writing and unlocking the imaginative child within is a good way of describing your creativity. You ask what we did during lockdown? I started writing these monthly blogs and think I now have a good take on what is called CNF or creative non-fiction. Hope so anyway...
Ruth Leigh said…
I love this! I too have a "novel" which will never see the light of day but the work that went into it was so important. I loved your blog - I will be following you on the socials. Which country did you move to?

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