NaNoWriMo 2016: Preparing to Write Your Book

(c) Jo Naylor (Creative Commons License - Flickr)

(c) Jo Naylor (Creative Commons License – Flickr)

When I first started taking writing really seriously, I began researching life as a writer on the internet. I found a lot of information–too much information. I'm a fairly methodical person, which probably surprises exactly no one. Researching is a good thing. Learning is so, so important.

But when it comes to writing a book, there comes a point where you have to say, “I have learned enough.”

You learn how to write a book by sitting down and writing it. I could talk about how I write a book all day long, but in the grand scheme of things, you won't learn anything until you sit down and actually begin writing.

Today is October 11, 2016, and November is coming soon. November is a time of change, an opportunity to form good habits, and a chance to test yourself. November can be a great time for you to explore the nooks and crannies of who you are as a person and a writer.

The official rules of NaNoWriMo involve participants beginning a book from scratch and only writing fiction.

I'm a former ML, and once upon a time, I even followed those rules. The years have changed me. For every author who comes to my blog in October and November, I want one thing: I want you to write your book.

Go ahead and rebel. Do whatever it takes to make you finish your book. It's all right. If you have a novel that is 25,000 words long and you need 50,000 more words to finish it… finish it. Be discreet about it, of course, but go ahead. Be a rebel.

Finish your book.

A writing marathon isn't easy. Whether you start with 0 words or 25,000 words, it boils down to the same exact amount of effort: you're aiming to write 50,000 words.

That's a huge accomplishment.

The rest of this month, I will be taking the time to discuss things like creating ideas, how to challenge yourself while you write, and how to deal with traditional writer's block.

Today is a day for you to commit to yourself and your book. You may fail, but every word you write is a major victory.

I am prolific author today, but I wasn't always a prolific author. I learned that. I worked hard to become one. I grew as a writer from scratch. Once upon a time, there was a time I wrote absolutely nothing a year. Then I wrote a few words here and there. My first few years I wrote maybe 5,000 words a year, maybe. Then, one day, I decided I wanted to finish a book. The first few attempts I failed so, so miserably.

Then one day, I truly committed myself to finish a book. I decided it didn't matter if the book was terrible. It was a horrible, unsalvageable piece of steaming refuse. However, I'd written it. The story had a beginning, a middle, and an end. I had written a novel.

I established I could, and it changed everything for me. My 5,000 words a year became closer to 50,000 a year. I began thinking I could actually become a writer. I had the standard new author ego, too. I can't remember the guy's name, but he shredded my first novel and told me I would never, under any circumstance, become a professional novelist of any sort. My sort of drivel couldn't be salvaged.

My depression lasted a few months, and I didn't write a word after that.

Then, one day, I got back up, decided he could go fuck himself with a stick, and said, “Game's on, bitch!”

It took me many years following that incident to improve my writing quality to levels I could stomach. The playing field changed when I started getting solid bites from agents.

I went from ‘I can't do this' to ‘I can do this.'

Today, commit to yourself. You may not succeed right now. You may not write more than a few words on your first try. The important thing is that you try. Once you begin trying, once you scrape your knees and fail, you gain the ability to stand back up and try again.

Every word you try again is one word closer to finishing your book.

You have a few weeks to solidify your commitment to your book. Make the most of them. If it helps, write those first few words of your book today to show your commitment to yourself and your book. Don't worry about the rules.

Worry about writing. Take a word and write it. Add another word. Toss in a few more words, and you end up with a sentence. Start again. A few more words later, and you have another sentence. After a few sentences, you have a paragraph. A couple of paragraphs later, and you have the starts of a scene and the birth of a story. Add in a few more words, a few more sentences, a few more paragraphs, and a few more scenes, and you have a chapter.

Add a few more chapters, and you have a book.

It all begins with a single word, but you have to commit to writing it first. Once you do, I hope you find those words become a lot easier to write. Doubts will happen, but just keep on writing.

You can't fix words you haven't written.

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