My good friend and fellow editor Randy Maxwell used to say, “Writers who are going to write will find a way, regardless of their circumstances.” That may be true, but there have been a lot better circumstances that what I have been through the past month.
Last night ended my 30 days of madness entitled National Novel Writing Month. I wrote the first 29 chapters of “Infinity’s Reach,” my retelling of Pilgrim’s Progress set in post-apocalyptic America, and ended up with 50,232 words. This is the third time I have finished National Novel Writing Month successfully.
What does it take to write 50,000 words in 30 days?
1. A commitment to writing 50,000 words, regardless of whether you feel inspired or not, and whether you think the stuff you are writing is great, mediocre, or not fit to be used in your bathroom for toilet paper. Don’t self edit; just keep writing.
2. An idea that is simple enough that you don’t find yourself stopping to figure out what happens next, and complex enough to keep your interest. It pays to take a day or two before the month begins to plot your story out.
3. A personal commitment to give the project priority during the month of November. This was the biggest challenge for me. I teach full time and have a variety of other responsibilities. I found it impossible to tell other people, “Sorry, I can’t do your project until December 1: I have National Novel Writing Month.” I don’t find them that sympathetic.
4. The ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Another tough one.
I will be the first to admit that the pages I cranked out are not the best I have ever written, and there are significant plot holes and character issue I still have to deal with. But I also have close to 200 pages of story in my hands that I didn’t have 30 days ago. So that’s something significant.
What’s next? Well, whatever it is, it won’t be writing a novel for a while….