Tuesday, October 06, 2015


Last year I wrote here about NaNoWriMo, which is National Novel Writing Month. Basically, it's a whole bunch of word wranglers from around the world getting together and committing to put 50,000 words down in one month. 50,000 words is the average length of a novel. I couldn't commit back then, having never even attempted to write a whole book. Now, I've attempted it, and I think I'd like to attempt some more. I am maybe halfway through my middle-grade novel, and although I feel a bit stuck I would like to tackle something new. Maybe flush out the ol' pipes. I have a few ideas for this new work, and should probably get an outline going. I didn't outline the first book, and wonder if that's where I got into trouble. I waded into the tall grass and couldn't see my way out. I was, with that book, for lack of a better term, a pantser. That's what writers call those who write by the seat of their pants, sans outline. This works well for me with the blog, but I can see the benefits of being a plotter when it comes to a whole book.

I digress.

Last year when I learned about NaNoWriMo and knew I couldn't commit, I instead created an alternate goal for myself. I attempted to write short story fiction and then I put it out there. Turned out the writing part was the easier of the two. Sending my work out into the world was hard. I was fortunate enough to receive remarkable feedback, though, by winning the St. Louis Writers Guild Short Story Contest. I still can't quite believe that happened, but it was a huge boost to the confidence. It gave me the guts to start the middle grade novel, and to start writing much more consistently again. I even submitted to an online literary journal I love and was honorably rejected, so starting the string of rejections every writers bears as a badge of honor. You know you're a writer when you get rejected.

This year I've joined the other Wrimos (that's apparently what we call ourselves, as horrific as that sounds) and registered, and ordered a cool hoodie and this year's t-shirt and a fun travel mug that says "Good to the last plot," so I'm all set, right? Well. We'll see.

I think in order to do this, to really do it well, there are a couple things that need to happen:
  • I need to outline the book.
  • I need to carve out specific time.
Last night, after we did dinner and Scrabble and reading, after washing my face and brushing my teeth, I went into my little room. I had every intention of being all creative like. However, I saw the pile of paperwork and bills, and I can't just turn my back on that shit (I wish I could). So I balanced the checkbook and wrote a bazillion more checks (Zoe's school is killing me with the checks) and paid bills online and stapled and hole-punched and filed. This all took over two hours, and I was even more tired by the end of it, plus by then it was time for bed anyway. Absolutely nothing creative happened last night. And I realized that there is no way on earth I can crank out 50,000 words in a month when I have nights like that. Many, many nights like that.

I am considering using some of my vacation days (accrued over the summer thanks to not going anywhere/having any fun because of two foot surgeries) in November. Random Mondays or Wednesdays, devoted strictly to writing. This is the only way I can see having any chance of hitting that goal. I also read that putting your goal in writing is meaningful when it comes to actually attaining it. People who write out their goals are much more likely to achieve them than those who don't.

So, here's my goal: 50,000 words in one month. They may not be the right words, and the plot may be full of holes, but that's what December is for.


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