So, authors and writing groups are talking about the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), an annual event that takes place globally, starting November 1st, with a goal to complete a 50,000 word count novel by November 30th.
While I have participated in book-in-a-week types of challenges through my writing groups, I have yet to participate in NaNoWriMo in an official capacity. However, as November is my most productive writing month, I use ideas from challenges such as book-in-a-week and NaNoWriMo and adapt them to use in an un-official way by carving out specific times, whether I can spare two hours a day, or eight, to free-write my way to my personal, end-of-week, or end-of-month, goals.
Realistically, few writers can free-write their way to a book in less than a week, or in 30 days, but writing challenges can help motivate a writer to get a jump start on a project they’ve been thinking about, or complete one they have been working on.
The story is about a woman hiding a shady past who finds passion, and love, with a cowboy vintner/winemaker. But she stands to lose her new love, and her new life, when someone from her past–a man who knows her secrets–starts blackmailing her.
While some people are of the mind that writing rubbish for a week, or 30 days, is a waste of time, in my experience as a published author, both Indie and contracted with a small, New York publishing house, most first drafts resemble donkey-poo. That’s why they’re called rough drafts. The good thing to know about rough drafts? They are not masterpieces, and they don’t have to be. That’s what rewrites, polishing, editors, proofreaders are for. The hope and outcome of a writing challenge is to get some writing done!
Keep in mind that not every writing challenge will suit the needs of every writer, but should be seen as a writing tool to help a writer reach their goals.
Here are some tips to consider doing weeks before you sit down and start burning up the keyboard. They’ll make the writing challenge more fun, productive, and less painful:
1. Do a basic outline or synopsis of your story, with a beginning, middle and end so you don’t find yourself up against a brick wall in the middle of the challenge.
2. Cook and freeze a few casserole dinners so your family doesn’t starve
3. Plan on having ingredients on hand for a few crock pot dinners. Dump everything in the crockpot in the a.m. and by the end of the day, cha-chaaa! You’ve written some hardcore, trainwreck pages, but hey, you have a hot meal in the crockpot, all cooked and smelling delish. Your family will love you for not forgetting about them.
4. Clean house beforehand, or pick up to the best of your abilities (it’s easier to free your mind to write when you know all the toilets in the house are clean)
5. Budget for some take-out meals
6. Let the family in on what you’re trying, or think you’re trying to do, and ask that they be patient and help out where they can
7. Show the kids where to find the hot dogs and the buns, they might just have what’s called *fixa-U-oni* for dinner, translated it means good luck finding something to eat
I also give everyone advance warning: If my computer’s rocking, don’t come a-knockin’! Good thing they’re familiar with me in work mode — the house can be on fire and I’ll just keep writing.
If you’ve signed up for the NaNoWriMo writing madness, good luck, have fun and write your heart out!