In a lonely, dimly-lit coffee house, the lonely writer types word after word, sentences turning into paragraphs and finally, a pile of papers forms that most revered creations of all–a novel. It takes years, we all realize that. First, the writer ponders a plot and character and conflicts. Outlines are written, unless you’re a pantser, then you’re just off drinking coffee and eating danish and thinking deep thoughts.
Then the writing begins. Hair is yanked out of one’s head. Coffee is consumed by the gallons, cigarettes are smashed into ashtrays outside the shop. The whole process labors on, slowly, laboriously, until–at last–the writer types “The End” and is released from the spell the muse had them under.
That’s one way to do it. Or you can sign up for National Novel Writing Month and write a book in one month. Yes, I said one month, just thirty days. To do that, the writer needs to produce 1,600 words a day to create the 50,000-word mark by the end of November. Fifty thousand’s a good length for a slim but respectable length novel. Sounds so reasonable, doesn’t it? Just write every day, 1,600 words a day, every day for a month. Easy peasy, oh so easy.
You can’t tell but I’m laughing my pants off on this side of the computer monitor. Writing every day is a challenge itself. I’ve been a writer for more than thirty years and writing is my passion, forgive the cliche. I’m overstating it a bit because I’m not so passionate that I write every day unless I’m facing a deadline. First books don’t have deadlines, unfortunately, so I never seemed to get that first novel written.
When I first learned of NaNoWriMo, it sounded like an excellent way to motivate myself, and so what if I didn’t finish 50,000 words by the end of the challenge? Who’s gonna know? Well, it turns out everyone would know because I told all my friends and they were encouraging me all month. I never could keep my big mouth shut.
On the days when I hated the very sight of my keyboard, I’d think about how lousy I’d feel if I had to admit I skipped a day of writing. Even worse, if I didn’t reach my goal, I’d face that disappointment. So I’d drag myself into my office and plunk around on the keyboard until words formed sentences and before long, my story was coming together.
Around the third week of November, I typed that 50,000th word and shouted, “Hallelujah!” startling my dogs into a frenzy of barking and trying to jump in my lap. Celebration over, I turned back to the computer and typed on. My book isn’t finished, so I’m going to keep writing every day until it is. I just realized I told you, so now I have to do it or I will feel terrible. Good motivation!