Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Plugging Along

November is National Novel Writing Month. It's also, National Buy Timothy Fish's Books Month, but that gets far less attention than NaNoWriMo. As you can see, November is upon us, which means that thousands of authors will be trying to generate a novel before the end of the month. This will be the tenth year for NaNoWriMo. I will not be participating. That doesn’t mean I think you shouldn’t. Many people have “write a novel” written somewhere on their bucket list. If NaNoWriMo lets you cross that one off, go for it.

One of the things people who've never completed a novel ask is how authors do it. As someone who has completed several books, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Don’t tell anyone, but it’s not as hard as it looks. A lot of people resort to tricks and many of them are just that. Some people force themselves to write a minimum number of words per day. Want to write a book in a year? Write 220 words per day and by this time next year you’ll have an 80,000 word novel written. Want to write a novel in a month? 2,700 words per day will bring you to your goal.


I don’t rely on word count quotas. If I had more time to write, I could put out 5,000 to 10,000 words per day with ease, but my experience has shown me that there is much more to writing than just cranking out words. I write when I’m ready to write. There are days I don’t write at all and other were I do little else. That works for me.

The thing that sets the author with a completed manuscript apart from others is patience. Some people say it’s about keeping your butt in the chair. I don’t completely agree, because some of my best ideas have come to me when I was off doing something else, but a writer must be patient. I’ve heard of people cranking out a novel (50,000 words) in three days and I might like to try that sometime, but good writing takes time. You won’t finish the work if you become impatient and take off in some other direction. I know a guy who is so impatient that when he sees work that will take more than a few minutes to figure out, he breaks down because he doesn’t know how to handle it. I don’t expect he will ever be able to finish a novel. But if you want to write a novel, keep your eyes on the prize and keep on plugging. You’ll get there eventually.