Sorry I’ve been away. I’ve been super busy working on my National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) book, leaving little time for anything else. NaNoWriMo is 30 days of literary abandoned with the hope of reaching 50,000 words and having a first draft of a novel. I’m on Day 13 with 25K already in the hopper. So far, my momentum is good, but I’m hoping I’m not the turkey come Thanksgiving.
This is fun, make no mistake. Maybe most folks would cringe at the idea of sitting in front of a computer screen typing out a crappy first draft, but I’m having the time of my life. Granted, it helps that my story is light and fun. Jonathan Franzen I ain’t.
No one would peg me for being disciplined or even dedicated, either, but knowing that thousands of others are doing the same thing I’m doing at the same time is motivating. I’ve also checked my perfectionism at the door. Only once have I really panicked about my story. Thank goodness my friends were there to talk me off the literary ledge.
Being only half-way through the process, I don’t have any sound advice on how to write a book. But I’m learning as I go, like
- Stop using the word “suddenly,” as in, “Suddenly, everything went quiet.” “Everything went quiet” suffices. It took me about 50 pages before I saw that pattern and quit doing it. I’d probably have five thousand less words if I took out the word “suddenly” from all I’ve written. Another five thousand gone if I removed “even.”
- Base one of your characters on a friend you like. I chose my good friend Marty, a sweet Southern belle with a wicked sense of humor. Even though she lives far away, it’s as if we’re out for dinner any time I sit down and write a scene with her. And the time (and words) just flies.
- Work out an issue that’s been bothering you. If you still can’t get over getting dumped, that slight on the subway, or your brother locking you in a closet when you were kids, write it down. You’ll feel twenty pounds lighter after you’ve crafted it into a scene and gotten it off your chest.
- Write as fast as you can. Regardless of your typing speed, get the words out on the page as quickly as possible. Set the timer for an hour and go. It won’t be perfect—it doesn’t have to be, it’s a first draft. You’ll have plenty of time to go back and fix everything when you’re done. The important things is to have something there to fix.
- Keep your support system on speed dial. No one wants to hear, “Hasn’t that already been done?” when you share your story idea, or “That’s crazy!” upon hearing your word count. The people with whom I share my creative life are my cheerleaders. They say “Awesome!” when I’ve told them I cranked out a thousand words. They talk out an incomplete passage with me until the pieces all fall into place. They send me a link to an article that might help my story along. They’re the ones who will get thanked in the Acknowledgments should I ever get published.
I should stop here for now. My fingers are getting tired from all that typing and the Beast is giving me some grief for neglecting him while I’m writing (Woof!). If you’re doing NaNoWriMo, let me know how it’s going. And if you have any advice, please share. The more the better!