I’ve wanted to publish a novel ever since first grade. Our teacher gave each us folded pieces of printer paper in the shape of a book (stapled and everything), and I was instantly hooked. Since then, I’ve known deep down that I was a storyteller. I haven’t been able to get enough of stories, books, and writing ever since.
Problem is, I’ve never been able to actually get a novel down on paper. It’s time to change that.
National Novel Writing Month
During November, writers from around the world participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days, or 1,667 words a day for anyone bad at math like me. The prize is bragging rights and completing the first draft of your novel. Don’t worry – the writing can be (is supposed to be) filled with plot-holes and tacky adjectives. Revisions can (and should) come later. The focus is just getting down 50,000 words.
Last year 431,626 people participated, and over 250 NaNo novels have been traditionally published. Water for Elephants sound familiar to anyone?
When I got wind of NaNoWriMo five years ago, I couldn’t resist it. I could smell the book deal already. But year after year, I hardly put down one word. I made excuses about being too busy at school or at work. Busyness wasn’t the issue. Here are the four things that were:
Failing to Plan
Some people can just whip up a story and let their imagination fly. In NaNoWriMo speak, this is referred to as Pantsing. You fly by the seat of your pants. I am not a Pantser. I’ve tried to be, but this was the root of the problem. I’d ask myself too many questions during the process and become frozen by all the possibilities. So this year, I embraced what I am. A Planner. I started with an idea, began fleshing it out, canned it because it was too complex, started with another idea, mapped out the plot, reworked the plot, reworked the characters, reworked it again, fell into despair, tried to fix it, hurt my brain, and finally just settled on what I’ve got. It’s been a whole lot of work this October, but now I’m prepared. I know exactly where to start and where to go next this November. As long as I don’t get stuck in a rewrite.
This is my worst writing habit. I will read the same opening sixty times and change something every time. I just can’t get past it until it’s perfect. It’s going to take some willpower to just force myself through a sloppy scene or accept some cheesy descriptive paragraphs. I’ve come to realize that writing a book has a painful amount of layers to it, and one of those layers might have to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad first draft. The idea of rewriting 30,000 words terrifies me. But better to have 20,000 solid words than none at all. So I’m going to give myself permission to be really, really bad. My inner perfectionist is going to suffer dearly this month. It’ll be healthy for her.
Waiting for the Right Mood
One of my general life struggles is putting things off. I love thinking about doing things, but not actually doing them. I like to “feel in the mood” for creative projects, which is contrary to the number one piece of advice many successful creatives will give you: don’t wait until you’re in the mood. While rewriting is my worst writing habit, this is probably one of my worst life habits. It’s going to be a tough one to navigate since I haven’t had mastery in this in any area of my life lately. The way I’m going to conquer it is by scheduling writing appointments with myself. I’ll put them in my calendar, set up reminders, and commit myself to picking a spot to hunker down and write. If I fail, I guarentee this will be the one that got me.
Waiting for November
To “win” NaNoWriMo, you have to write your 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30. But why wait at all? Why not write today?
The symbolism of time and deadlines is a powerful tool for me, but there is never a better time to write than the present. If I don’t get this done in 30 days, there are still 335 days left in the year to write some more. A novel is not limited to November. Following any dreams is not limited to any time. The time is now.
So, even if I fail to hit 50,000 in 30 days, I want to spend the rest of December trying. Or January. Or February. Even if it takes until next November, the point is to pursue your dreams and your goals with each day you have. Someday is not on the calendar. Today is.
That’s why I’m going to tackle NaNoWriMo this year. I’m prepared this time, and I am ready to face the bumps in the road. It’s time to make my dreams a reality.
Here’s a sneak peek of what I’ll be working on!
Snow White & the Seven Knights
Eirwen loves her simple life. She is only pennies away from buying back her father’s farm, the farm she lost after her brother Brennan took off to become a Knight.
And with the royal wedding just a few days away, Eirwen finally has the opportunity she’s been waiting for to make the last bit she needs to buy the farm once and for all.
But when she witnesses the new Queen murder the King, she becomes the most wanted woman in the realm.
If she ever wants to return home again, she must finish the most important mission of her life – to find Snow White before the Queen does.
But to find Snow White, she’ll have to find the Seven Knights. And that means finding Brennan.