Wednesday, October 29, 2008

50,000 words.

Who hasn't said they'd like to write a novel someday? Who has actually done it? Probably not too many. I've written two (unpublished) ones myself. The writing is the most important part. If you never sit down and start, you're never going to accomplish your goal. It's that simple.

How to be a novelist? You have to be a writer. You have to write. It's crazy that it needs to be spelled out that way but it's the honest truth. Writing is a skill that can only develop when one uses it. You can't claim your a writer without ever going through the process of writing. What most of us needs is motivation. A challenge to get us off our lazy butts and working for a goal and that's the whole point of National Novel Writing Month. Lucky for me and you, November is National Novel Writing Month and there's nothing better than knowing that somewhere out in the wide world some other crazy people are spending the next 30 days trying to scrap out 50,000 words.

It sounds like it should be easy but it isn't. In 2006, I managed over 65,000 words. I was so proud of myself when I got my official certificate, but last year didn't go so well. I don't think I got 25,000. I just couldn't get into the flow I needed. Writer's Block is so cliche but it is so true and it can be debilitating. I guess I'm making excuses too.

This time around one of my friends LW is going to attempt the gauntlet with me. She's been talking about writing a novel for years so I sent her a thoughtfully written challenge:

Dear Ms. LW - Singer Extraordinaire - Older Sister's Best Friend - Holder of Aforementioned-Sister's Secrets -

You might be asking your self "why was I fortunate enough to receive your email?" You are right to be awed and speechless. There is no time for groveling. You must prepare.

The time has come to prepare for the fun and excitement of novel writing. While many have tried, few have succeed. Many boast of their goals, few will realize. Only the strong, the brave and the bizarrely strange.

The Calendar might say "September" but you only have two months to prepare your mind and ideas for the glorious event that is National Novel Writing Month - Now that I have lured you in with my clever lines and phrasing, you will have no choice but to fall for my plan of getting your fingers working on your novel to be. While you might aspire to be a novelist, you are only a novelist once you have finished the novel - published or not - and you get a cool little certificate that you print out and stick to your wall showing all who they are dealing with.

Don't worry. I will continue to hound you for the next 8 weeks and then maybe daily during November. You will learn to love the bits of wisdom that my fingers send you and you will be forever grateful - a mention in your thank you will do no need to dedicate the book to me as that would be too much.

Now, to be truly cruel, I am Ccing M. who is delegated the task of asking about your book whenever she emails you and talks to you on the phone. You might want to mention her in the thank yous too.

Doesn't this all sound like fun. Get to work planning cuz you only have 7.5 weeks left.


PS - No I'm not joking. Give in.

I'm hoping we'll be able to keep each other motivated. My husband is supportive but as a non-writer he does not quite understand the issues at hand. He tries and I love him for it, but having someone trying the same challenge is just that fabulous.

So, I challenge you, my fellow thespians, to get their computers, typewriters, pens and paper pads ready for something you have been mumbling and thinking about your entire life. You will try to write that book, paper, essay you always dreamed off but never managed to set the time aside for it. So, you might write crap. Who cares? You have to exorcise all the crap before you can write the good stuff. Or maybe that crap just needs to be edited 50 times to get to the heart of the story. You won't know until you're done.

You can't ever be a writer, if you never write. I admit that I am a lapsed writer. I haven't written as much as I should lately. I've been more of a reader and a photographer and a scrapbooker, but writing is an important facet of my life.

I want another certificate to stick to my wall and another cool t-shirt. My 2006 one is falling apart. It's my favorite nightgown. Ah well.

Time to stretch those fingers and grab your thesaurus.

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