It’s that time again. National Novel Writing Month. 30 days, 50,000 words.
I had an idea. That idea was worth 14,000 words. Then, I had another, different idea.
So today, I started over. Am I worried? Do I think I can’t hit my goal?
Hell no. Failure is never an option, especially for me. Since last naNo, I’ve written four books, most of them within the span of 30 days, and all of them over 80,000 words each. I’m good.
But… how hard is it for someone to do that when they don’t KNOW they can? Pretty damned hard. My first NaNo novel was a neck-and-neck race with the clock, and I finished with only a couple of days to spare- and just barely broke the 50k mark. But I DID.
It isn’t about writing 50k words. You have to write a complete book. Maybe just the bare bones of a book, but a complete book nonetheless, with a beginning, middle, and end, a decent plot, compelling characters, twists, surprises…
I’m full of shit, and I’m telling you straight- the rules are just guidelines. Do what you want. Write how you want. My process is pretty stripped down now. I start with an opening scene, and I introduce my characters by fucking them up, over, and down. I love a book that starts with a bang, and that’s how I write. But in my mind, the characters are real, in my mind the world is real, and I don’t so much tell you what happens as write down what they do on their own. The result? I rarely have writer’s block anymore because I have these living, breathing people in my head that I can always visit and write about. As long as your characters are alive, and you have some basic idea what you’re going to do to them, I’ve found this to be an unfailingly excellent way to write. Your mileage may vary.
I also write completely linear. I mean, I start with page one, and I end with page whatever. I write the story from start to finish, and I don’t skip around. I discovered that if I just write the scenes I KNOW are gonna happen, I never connect them. The dots don’t line up. I’ve lost a couple of pretty good books like that. So now, I write the way I know how- balls to the wall, hammering the keys so hard my wife yells at me for the racket, and as quickly as my fingers can get the words in some semblance of the right order. On a decent day, I’ll put out between 4 and 6k. On a really GOOD day, I’ll get 10 to 15k. On a bad day, I might only do 1k, but I’m usually on when I have a project in mind. I don’t sweat the slow days, because I know it might be the only break I get. Again, that’s me.
I usually know how my books will end. But that doesn’t mean that when my pages get there, that’s what will happen. I’m often surprised by things that happen to my characters and further terrified by my own insanity because I DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY’RE GOING TO DO. They have their own live,s their own ideas, and they behave in ways that are true to their character. Note: I didn’t not say true to MY character. These people are going to do what they’re going to do, and I don’t get much say in the matter. I know, I know. Call the funny farm.
If you’re going to attempt NaNo, righteous! Good on you, and go to it! Find your style. Find your groove. Do it the way you want to. If you finish, good for yoU! IF you don’t, good for you! If you write, good for you. That’s all that needs to be said.
That blank white space can be intimidating. It can be cruel. But… I’ll tell you a secret- that blank page called your mom a nasty name. Go kick its ass!