I’ve been deep in the cave. I had to finish a book due, and this story ended up surprising me, so when I thought I was finished, my characters decided they weren’t ready to go, forcing me to write another 20K in three days so they’d finally go away.
They did. I typed the End. It’s off to my editor.
Each time I have a book due, I lie to myself. I outline the perfect schedule where I plan to write an average of 2-3K per day. I make sure to add in a dash of family, a sprinkle of errands, and the occasional disaster. I always come out with a sparkling, clean proposal with plenty of days off and the delivery of the manuscript EARLY.
Yeah. Unfortunately, I’ve had to imagine that for the last thirty books because I learned early, I’m a sick adrenalin junkie who likes to wait to the very last moment, and then go screaming and bitching into my office, pumping out 5-6K a day while I wail at everyone around me and ask HOW DID THIS HAPPEN TO ME AGAIN?
My son had the nerve to ask me if I had been wearing the same clothes for three days in a row.
I whispered the word, DEADLINE, and he slowly backed out of the room, and threw me a leftover piece of Halloween candy like a rapid dog.
But I wanted to talk about NANOWRIMO – not my screwed-up writing life.
Nanowrimo is National Writing Novel Month. The premise is to write 50K in thirty days. This is why you need to do it.
Participating in this challenge when I was an unpublished author was key to helping me create a habit of being able to write on a daily basis. It taught me that no matter what happens around me, I made a commitment to my writing, and it was not going to come in second. Not in November.
Nanowrimo taught me to vomit words and deal with fixing that shit later. Words beget more words. Work begets more work. We have nothing to sell or make money on or market if we don’t have words on the page, words that build stories.
Nanowrimo taught me to take myself seriously. Writing needs to be an investment of time and dedication and care. You need to stand up and declare you are a writer, and will be writing. For the month of November, you go into survival mode. Cleaning, cooking, socializing with friends, watching movies with the kids, all of it goes to the back burner for thirty days. Make a deal with your spouse or boyfriend to step it up and help. Ask family members, or friends, or babysitters. It’s time to claim your dreams and goals and they are IMPORTANT. Don’t wait for anyone else to tell you that, guys. It has to come from you or no one is going to listen.
Nanowrimo stripped away writer’s block. Basically, I had no more time for it. If I struggled for too long on a page, or a chapter, I learned to blast through it or start a new scene. It helped me experiment and figure out what worked best for me if I got stuck. Before nanowrimo, I would have left the pages to linger for days, while I went to figure things out. When you need to write a book in a month, you have no such luxury. You need to figure it out NOW. Usually, when I skipped around and wrote different parts, my subconscious was sorting through the blocked issue and later that week, I figured out how to fix it and went back.
Nanowrimo taught me to trust myself. All you have is you, your book, and a keyboard. There’s no one else in the room, and you need to depend on yourself and your Muse to get you to the finish line. That is an act of pure trust and faith. When you see what you accomplished in those thirty days, you learn you can do things that are hard. And trust me, writing is HARD. This is good practice.
Think it’s too late?
It’s never too late. I’m a procrastinator, too. It’s November 7th, and there’s still plenty of time. I “failed” a ton of times to technically write 50K, but I pumped out 30K and guess what? It was a novella or the first solid half of my book. Win/Win.
Instead of worrying or planning or overthinking, just grab some time and begin writing. Who cares if you don’t have a plot or an outline or a carefully written schedule? Maybe that terrified your Muse so much she went into hiding.
Trick her. Just sit down and begin writing and she will probably peek her head out and screech, “What are you doing? I’m not ready for this yet!” But you will just quietly ignore her, keep working, and eventually she will help you because she has no choice.
Use November to push the boundaries, join the community, declare your goal to the world – but then do it. Write.
Oh, and after you write all the words, circle back and click this link and buy my book, Write Naked. It’s chock full of stuff on the writing life and craft and suggestions and truth and I talk a lot about blockage.
I think you’ll like it.
It’s also brand new on audio – which is really exciting and I think you’ll love the narrator.
May the words be with you, my peeps.