” There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. ” – E. Hemingway –
As Mother Nature puts all her babies to rest and the world sees the greens turn to brown and the skies turn gray, writers must learn to pull upon inner resources for creativity and dedication. Today is the beginning of an important period of time – NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo.
For the uninformed, those are acronyms not gibberish. They are National Novel Writing Month and National Blog Post Month. Both are month-long challenges for writers and pretty daunting ones at that.
NaNoWriMo is the mother of them all. 30 Days. 50 thousand words. This averages out to around 1,666 words a day. Putting this into perspective, an average blog post for most people is 400-500 words. Basically triple or quadruple that and make it part of a continuous story – the bones of writing an entire novel in a month.
The novel won’t be pretty. There’s not much time for editing or refinement during November. However it is about getting the novel out of you – projectile vomiting it on the page. The cleanup comes later.
NaBloPoMo is a lesser “evil.” 30 blogs in 30 days. This contest actually makes you dedicate time to writing for a month. It’s far more lenient in its rules and regulations and is a great start for people who want to get into the habit of writing – sitting down at the keyboard (typewriter) and bleeding, but for shorter periods of time.
For the past couple of weeks, I have debated entering one or both contests. Honestly, NaBloPoMo is a pretty easy decision. It’s an automatic “game on.” But the novel… it’s had me up at night thinking about it.
I’m more than a few pages into the piece I have been working on for a while. Do I dare challenge myself to get the 50 thousand words in that would bring that novel closer to completion… in a month? I’ll be honest. The prospect rather terrifies me. I’m the queen of procrastination and it’s so much easier to not run that guantlet. Can I balance home, a job search (potentially starting a new one) and writing for 30 days? A lot of people can. Can I really do it?
The answer is yes. Yes I can. I can do anything I set my mind to. I just have to do it.
So welcome to November… a month for writers and authors. As I go through this month, I’m sure you will be hearing about what’s happening, but more importantly the amount of Band-Aids needed as my fingers bleed from the constant pounding of the craft. Let the games begin!
This is NOT a game of Solitaire
Unless you just feel like being an anti-social boob, there is no need to think you are in the writing game alone. By joining critique groups (with constructive criticism), online writers’ communities and forums and writer’s organizations, you will develop connections who will help you develop your craft and make your piece the best it can be. Plus networking with other writers helps you in the publishing game as well. Every career path has an “it’s not what you know; it’s who you know” aspect to it.”
Skill vs. Talent
Only a small minority of writers are naturally born with the ability to spin tales of intrigue and fantasy without so much as a backward glance. They weave convoluted tales with the single stroke of a pen and leave us breathless and begging for more. Then there are the rest of us who labor for hours and finally give birth to our creation – an often bloody mess in dire need of editing. The good news is that even if you don’t have so-called talent, you can develop the skill you need to be a successful writer.
We Just Don’t Care… about your creative writing degree.
I was first published in a literary magazine as a teenager and have published articles, poetry and the like since then. At no time has ANYONE ever asked me where I got my creative writing degree from or even if I had one. What people want to know – can I write and write well? Can I provide them with writing samples? Can I show them I know how to produce what I say I can?
Turtles travel at the speed of light compared to how quickly your novel will get to publication.
The movie “Limitless” shows the main character completing his promised novel in four days after a lengthy period of writer’s block. My word… if wishes were horses. But alas… the rest of us mere mortal men and women spend what feels like an eternity on our work. It then goes through editing and re-editing, galleys, proofreading, pre-publication marketing and research, publication and finally you have something tangible in your hands.
G-Sharp – It’s YOUR Voice. Use it.
There are so many other authors and writers who pen their work in a voice that is unique and inspiring. I couldn’t write like them if my life depended on it. If you try to write like someone else, your work will ring false and people will put the book down wondering “why” you would do such a thing. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but your voice is your own. Find it. Use it.
Starter, Quitter or Published?
There is nothing so scary or exciting as sitting down and staring at an empty screen or blank sheet of paper. Then comes the reality that I actually have to write something. Gah! Please not THAT! Ah, but yes. Indeed.
There are three categories of writers.
- The starters are the ones who start project after project, but for whatever reason can’t seem to finish one.
- The quitter stops before he even starts. He’s the wanna-be. With grandiose goals and statements like, “If I only had the time…” He quits before he even begins.
- The published ones are the rare breed. Fewer than 1% of works submitted are actually published. As a general rule of 1,000 manuscripts a publishing house receives, 10 are actually published. The odds are not in your favor, but you can do a lot of things right to increase your chance of getting in the top 10%.
It’s NOT about the writing…
Don’t look a me like I’ve become a Chimera. I swear I’m right on this. It’s not about the writing. It’s about the emotion and what an individual feels when they pick up your piece and read it. It’s about the genuine, deep-in-the-dark-reaches-of-the-mind emotion. If you can make them FEEL, then you will have done your job and they may put you on a best sellers list. N’est-ce pas? Just some food for thought.