Raking Leaves and Telling Stories

It’s my week off for Thanksgiving break, and I have a to-do list a mile long. I also feel like doing nothing.

It’s also National Novel Writing Month. For those who aren’t familiar with it, that’s when I and a hundred thousand other crazies pledge to write a 50,000-word novel during the 30 days of November. As a Sabbath-keeper, I’m not writing on Saturday, and I’m finding it hard to write when my wife is around. And I know when my daughter comes for the holidays as of tomorrow, my schedule will go out the window.

But I’m doing better than the recommended 1,666 word per day average, and having done it five times before, I’m not as much concerned with meeting the goal of 50,000 words. I’m more concerned with using it to motivate me to write my next book.

The first book I write for NaNoWriMo I completed in 17 days. A little OCD maybe, and the end result was that my book wasn’t one of my best. But I learned from it. It’s important that you don’t dawdle, and don’t spend time to edit. But I AM taking time to figure out what happens next.

One of the big rules I’ve learned about writing is that a writer needs to know themselves. That means, knowing what motivates them, where their traps are, what their phobias are. Some writers follow the credo of writing a few pages every day. I find that doesn’t work for me, and I know what does. I have to immerse myself in the story: OCD rearing its ugly head again. Another important thing I’ve discovered is that doing mundane tasks allows my brain to work on problems in my story. Yesterday I was at the dentist getting my teeth cleaned, thinking about my book. The dental hygienist asked me if I had heard what they were saying next door, and I responded that I wasn’t listening. I wasn’t. I was deep in my book, even if it wasn’t in front of me.

So today, I’m out raking leaves, using the time to work out details on my later chapters. I’m currently writing chapter 10, but have another 10 chapters after that to write, and many details to iron out. I may not finish my 50,000 words by November 30, but I think I’ll be a lot happier with my final product if I take time to think about it while I’m working.