On Writing a Novel in One Month

For many writers, November means NaNo. Since I’m actually participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year, I figure it’s only right that I add my voice to the write-a-book-in-a-month movement like many of my fellow writers have done. (Check out Aliette de Bodard and Mary Robinette Kowal)

I’ll be honest with you. November doesn’t usually work for me. It’s disappointing because there is such a surge of support in writing communities to get those words on the page in the month of November….50k in 30 days or 1,667 words per day. It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. It’s for anyone who has an idea but has yet to put pen to paper. No excuses. Just words.

This year, as usual, I didn’t think November would work for me. I finished a novel the last week of October and didn’t have a new idea ready, but to my surprise and delight, one jumped out and tagged me a couple of weeks ago and I now find myself participating in my first NaNo in years.

Note — my first NaNo in years. Hardly my first novel in a month. As a matter of fact, I write all of my rough drafts at that speed, striving to just get the words on the paper and deal with the polish later. Luckily for me, I’m pretty self-motivated when it comes to writing and can turn any month into novel writing month. For those who need a little external prodding, NaNo can be a valuable tool. I’d even say it has become something of a phenomenon.

Here’s the thing: I can spend forever obsessing over an idea: dreaming, outlining, plotting, filling out character sheets for the gardener’s second son who appears on page 103, but until the words hit the screen it’s a dead thing. Even though I know the rough draft will be just that — rough and a draft, I also know that this is how to breathe life into a story. And it doesn’t matter if it sucks. Great novels aren’t written, they’re rewritten.

So check out NaNo or, if you’ve got an idea in January and don’t want to wait until November, just atart writing 1,667 words each day. Don’t be afraid of the words or demand perfection, just let them come and in one month, you’ll have a novel. What do you have now?

Posted in Tips for Writers and tagged , , , , .