For the kickoff blog entry, I figured it would be appropriate to talk about a way to marshal some motivation to write. The killer for would be authors is getting past the first book, novel or otherwise. The entry I’m writing about now is to make a pitch for National Novel Writing Month. But first, a little background.
Earlier this year, as I perused my local Books-a-Million, I stumbled on a small box set called No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Blaty. Basically, it was a condensed version of a book by the same name. In this kit was a short book (a pamphlet really), some motivation cards that are meant to be read sequentially (one per day throughout a 30 day stretch), and (most importantly) a calendar where you tracked how many words you wrote on a given day.
I’m going to pause here to mention that, in my quest to actually finish a novel, I had not only previously failed to complete a first draft, I had rarely finished more than half a dozen pages of any project. My typical routine was to write a few paragraphs, maybe a couple of pages if I was “on fire,” and then that cursed editor’s eye would stop, turn around, and look at everything I had written. And what’s worse, the Quality Troll would come out, take a look at it as well, and both the Eye and the Troll would fall down laughing. My enthusiasm inevitably drained away, and I’d have added another dead idea to the story compost.
But this kit laid out a challenge: set aside 30 days, and write the stupid book. Don’t stop for anything. Make your goals known to whoever will listen, pick the start date, and then go. To help the writer along, the tools I mentioned above were provided, as well as a framework for how to proceed over the next four weeks.
Maybe it was because I was finally ready to listen. Maybe because it was because the kit was so cleverly written that I was able to finally overcome my angst about writing. I tend to think it was a lot of both. But I was able to finally finish the first draft manuscript for a novel. After 30 days of writing, my book-to-be came in at a lean but respectable 190ish pages. I figure after I finish editing, it’ll top 210 or more.
National Novel Writing Month, founded in part by Blaty, is an annual event where would-be writers commit to writing out a book over the 30 days of November. You sign up, absolutely free, and start the race with thousands of other aspiring authors to finish a book in a month. And although I’ve already finished my manuscript, I’m seriously thinking about signing up for NNWM this year. I could use the motivation to put together my next project. If you’re interested, here’s the link: http://www.nanowrimo.org/
And let me know if you go sign up. We can motivate each other.