NaNoWriMo and The Author’s Process
How do authors write books? Is there such a thing as an author’s process? Stephanie Nickel talks about NaNoWriMo, a time when many novelist’s get down to work.
The Author’s Process
If you’re not an author, you may wonder where writers get their ideas and how they transfer them to the computer screen and eventually to book form.
If you are an author, you may wonder how you can do it better.
Today, I’m going to touch on a worldwide phenomenon that is occurring as we speak, NaNoWriMo—or National Novel Writing Month.
This is the month that published authors and writers of every stripe may disappear from the radar, may let the dishes pile up in the sink, and just may forget to feed their family.
The Goal of NaNoWriMo
The goal of NaNoWriMo? To write 50K works between 12:01 AM on November 1 and 11:59 PM on November 30. (For many writers, it’s a good thing Halloween candy is 50 percent off and easily accessible.)
What’s the point of cranking out almost 1700 words a day on a novel (or nonfiction book)?
How can anyone fit that much writing into an already busy schedule?
Won’t they just be creating a book that no one will want to read?
Part of the Process
Let me answer questions 1 and 3 to begin. The first drafts of most books you enjoy went through several rounds of self- and professional edits. It’s part of the process.
Very few, if any, authors who “win” NaNo and produce 50K new words could immediately publish their book and expect readers to be captivated and stay up late turning pages, the goal of authors everywhere.
However, if a writer doesn’t have a first draft, they have nothing to edit, nothing to offer readers and would-be readers.
A Draft Can Become a Book
So, the skeleton of the first draft can become the fully formed body of a wondrous new story if the author is willing to put in the additional investment of time and, in most cases, money to polish their work.
But November is not the time to think about editing and formatting and cover design. It’s the time to write.
And just how can people with a family, a full-time job, and an endless To Do list write 1.7K words a day—or more if they want to take one or two days off each week?
Be Honest About Time
First, we have to be honest about how we spend our time.
My To Do list and my Procrastination list (things that have been on my To Do list longer than I care to mention) are lengthy. But where do I actually spend my time? Too often I allow myself an episode of a Netflix series I’m watching and then allow the autoplay feature to begin the next episode, which, of course, I promise not to watch in its entirety. But hey, who’s kidding herself?
Now, you may not even watch TV, but if you carefully keep track of how you spend your time, you might find more minutes in your day than you thought you had.
This leads me to the next suggestion on where to find “free time.”
Where To Find Free Time
We must remember we can snatch 10 minutes here and half an hour there more often than we think. There are no rules that say we have to write all the day’s words in one sitting.
While you may not have a couple of hours each day to write, can you find pockets of time here and there?
If you have a notebook and pen or a writing app on your phone, you can write while waiting for your kids after school, in the grocery store line, while on your break at work. The only limit is your imagination and willingness to write whenever—and wherever—you can.
We must also give ourselves permission to leave things until December.
Those dishes I mentioned don’t have to be done every day. (I know. I know. All you perfectionists out there are twitching something awful. But it’s okay. I promise.)
I also mentioned feeding the family.
Well, it is a good idea to keep our loved ones nourished. But there is nothing saying we can’t enlist our family’s help, which is likely best done in October or before. They may not understand our desire to write. (For some, it’s actually a compulsion.) However, they may be willing to take on extra responsibilities if they know it’s only temporary. Plus, the occasional fast food meal isn’t likely too bad for them.
A Bonus Tip
And, as a bonus tip …
Writing any words that weren’t on paper—or the computer—before November counts as a win (in real life if not on the NaNo website).
My personal goal is to write at least 20K new words on my novel—while aiming for the ultimate goal of 50K. (Some people write even more words during November, but we won’t talk about that.)
I’ve got this … I think. <grin>
Now, these insights and tips were pertaining to NaNoWriMo in particular, but they would be helpful for whatever project you have been putting off because you don’t think there are enough hours in the day.
Granted, during November I won’t be doing a lot of reading. But who knows? If I truly discipline myself, I may be able to write 50K words and finish a book or two.
Happy Reading. And perhaps, Happy Writing.
If you are participating in NaNo, I would love to hear from you. You can always add me as a buddy. I go by the username StephBeth over at the nanowrimo.org site.
Stephanie is a freelance writer and a contributor to our Christian internet radio station, HopeStreamRadio.
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Images courtesy of:
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Typewriter – Tama66
Books – Clarissa Bell