Sunday, November 19, 2017

National Novel Writing Month

In my last post (click here), I mentioned that I would be tackling NaNoWriMo this year.

NaNoWriMo is the National Novel Writing Month that takes place every year in November. Writers from all over the world join together to crank out the story that's been rattling around in their heads in one single month. The measurable goal is to write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November.

Now, anyone who has ever met me or even been in the same room with me, knows that I have no shortage of words constantly flowing out of my head. Primarily through my mouth hole. I can eek out 50,000 words from my mouth over lunch. There are absolutely no topics that I am not willing to fake being an expert in so I can hear myself talk.

However, NaNoWriMo is considerably more challenging. 50,000 words is approximately 200 pages of written words. And there must be a theme that runs through all these words. Not like speech where you can just talk and talk and change topics from politics to restaurants to polar bear mating habits to the ugliest Sex in the City cast member.

When you are writing a book, it must have a coherent path for the reader to follow. It needs a beginning, middle and end. And that does not even get into the need to have likeable characters, a plausible story arc, a significant conflict, and a resolution. It's rather a large task to undertake, but it has some great advantages.

First, it gets the story written. I came up with my story about two years ago. I even made phone calls to some published author friends to pick their brains about how to get started on a story. I carried around a notebook and made notes about significant plot points as I thought of them and I really enjoyed developing the characters in my head as I was at work. I would get so excited when a new angle occurred to me. It was great. It was energizing.

What it was not was…actually getting written.

I had almost the entire story in my head and a little of it in some notes, but that was all I had done. About six months ago, I actually sat down and wrote out the first five chapters. I wrote them and re-wrote them over and over until they were just they way I wanted them, but it was a very slow process. When I felt that I was happy with them, I even sent them out to about a half dozen people to get their feedback. I got some great pointers on things I could change to improve it. However, once again, that is all that happened. I went back and made changes to those chapters.

The book still wasn't getting written.

I really want to be able to just write for a living. I keep picturing myself getting up in the morning and sitting at my computer for a few hours to work on my next novel and not having to punch a time clock somewhere.  But in order for that to even be in the realm of possibility, I have to actually produce a book now and then. Thinking about a book does not get it written.

Stephen King at his writing desk

So, when people on Twitter started talking about NaNoWriMo, I decided that having the specific goal of having to commit 1,667 words to paper per day might give me the motivation I needed to actually get this book out of my head and onto paper.

Starting November 1st, I dove in with a personal commitment that I had to produce this daily quota. And I did. Turns out I just needed a specific goal to shoot for instead of "Just sit down and write, stupid." As of today (November 20), I have written 40,137 words toward my goal of having 50,000 by the end of the month.


This means, I will actually have my book written before December gets here. YAY!!!

It won't be ready to go yet, because I will then have to start the tedious task of going through it and editing it. For the past three weeks, I've just been cranking out the words to get the story out, but I wouldn't want anyone to read it yet. I need to tidy it up and give it my specific voice, develop the characters further, drop in some witty dialogue, and make sure that it flows well. I have no idea how long that part of it will take, but I have learned that if I set some specific goals for myself, I can get it done without dragging it out unnecessarily.

Once I'm satisfied, I'll be looking for volunteers to read it and give me feedback on what they think needs to be fixed before I start sending it out to publishers.

I can't even begin to express how excited I am that my novel is finally coming to life and that I have that space in my brain back. It's been in there long enough.

10 comments:

  1. I'm excited too! I really take inordinate pride in your accomplishments. The fact that you are doing this, even writing while I'm home, makes me so happy!

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    1. Thank you. I love when you walk in and ask my word count for the day and I can give you a high number.

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  2. That's a grand achievement! I can't even get my stories into my blog these days. Your commitment is an inspiration!

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    1. My blog has suffered for months. That was one of the reasons I jumped on this. Those daily goals. It just keeps me on track.

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  3. I'm so jealous. I have been ruminating on writing for too long. Maybe December will be my month.

    Congratulations on getting a rough draft going. I know you will finish it. Its the starting that is hard.

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    1. Starting absolutely was the hardest part. It was much easier once I got going.

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  4. YAY indeed! That's a huge accomplishment! So now that December's here, where are you at? Finished? Close?

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    1. I don't plan to even look at it again in December. In January, I will start the editing and revision process. We'll just have to see where it goes from there.

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