National Novel Writing Month
I learned a little more about myself in my first stab at writing 50,000 words in 30 days. I made it 1/2 through in a matter of 1/3 of the time so there is hope that in the future, I would be able to actually do it.
I started to plan out my novel in mid October. I mapped out new characters, a new and compelling story. I kept with the trope of ordinary people with extraordinary abilities. This was 100% new. November 1st came and went and I was so focused on pitching my first book, that writing anything new took a back seat.
Then something amazing happened. I got a full request for my first book that had “series potential”. The only thing is, if she did manage to read the whole thing, she would see that this was indeed a book one of a very strong series. I couldn’t disappoint.
So on the 8th I started hard charging into book 2 of the Power Series. From there, I averaged about 4k words a day. I would constantly chase the same 5k to be caught up with the NaNo pace car so to speak. Then something else happened that stopped my brain completely. I could not focus. I struggled to get 2k words out in a day.
I was paralysed 1/2 though my very first NaNo. My family came to visit and holidays took priority over writing which changed focus when my baby was admitted to the hospital. Writing was the last thing on my mind.
But I still learned things:
- I COULD do it. There is no doubt that I have the ability to get words out. With this particular story, I know it so well, I can add just about any scene to it for better or worse.
- First drafts are by far the worst products of writing ever. I am embarrassed to have even my favorite Beta reader and closest friend read what I produced in a mad rush to write words. Horrible garbage writing. What is fun about this is that I will not have to work so hard later. Editing is easier than coming up with ideas from scratch.
- I learned a lot about bullet journaling. I cannot draw, but I can use a ruler and make graphs to track things. This was soooo helpful as I am a pantser (I write from the seat of my pants without any formal planning). I created a timeline of various scenes that kept me writing. Transitions between scenes are pretty rough as I have yet to master the passing of time between one paragraph and another, so sleeping is my default. This is later researched and edited to something far more entertaining and effective. All that to say, outlining in some fashion is not something I am used to, but it works for NaNo and prevents you from getting stuck. Write a scene, then move on to the next.
- I also found that a reward system is fun, though I rarely stuck to it. As I continue punching out this book, I think I will keep with the reward goals. Mainly because 40,000 words is an order of my favorite wine from Tennessee. (Just had an amazing idea to have my book cover on a wine label for all future book launch parties.. Um YES!!) Other rewards included NaNo swag, a coffee mug, writing in a public place, etc. I did not want everything to cost money, because I am a writer and we can potentially no longer deduct “writing expenses”. I also stuck to rewards every 10k words so that I could feel like I was actually working for it. I was producing anywhere between 1.5k to 5k words in a day. A typical novel is around 80k. 16 rewards that potentially cost money is a bit much in my opinion.
- Changing your writing environment helps to break a writer’s block. So incredibly true. I dropped my son off at school and sat at my neighborhood coffee shop and took notes until it was time to pick him up (1/2 day session preschool). The problem I was running into was I did not have enough scenes between the beginning and the end of my book. The end was coming dangerously close in just 20k words. I needed more subplots or a bigger main plot of the book. AND IT WORKED! I left that coffee shop with a HUGE addition to my plot and even an added theme.
- I truly have a solid support system. Between my husband giving me the time to writing and my friends cheering me on, to fellow authors and industry professionals that gave me advice on how to write a sequel.
I hear that people are scared to write books, and nervous about XYZ. The literary world is so forgiving in the developmental stages of writing. We want to see others succeed. Once it is out in the world, that is when things get sticky. You could have the ripest apple on the tree, but there is always going to be someone that does not like apples. Much is like the publishing a book.
Success for me now, having put so much work into not only my story but the logistics of marketing to agents and publishers, is not so much about the numbers (I say this now knowing I have this huge marketing plan that will require much more work). Success for me is holding my book baby in my hand or giving someone the title to search on Amazon. Success is stating my occupation as an Author when asked. It’s catching up with former colleagues and being able to tell them that I succeeded at everything I started out to do.
I really recommend doing a hobby challenge like National Novel Writing Month. Or maybe you want to try doing a smaller challenge first. ChapterBuzz.com offers a 10k in a month challenge, which I have won twice with one book. You never know until you try.