(National Novel Writing Month)
(in case you didn’t know)
Every November, if you are anywhere near social media, you may be seeing tons of stuff about Na-No-Wri-Mo.
It can be a very good thing for those folks who’ve been thinking about writing, but just haven’t found the time/motivation to actually sit down and do it. There are writing groups everywhere for you to join and libraries are offering space for you to come in, sit down and write with your fellow Na-Mo-ers.
I even got an invite from a library near and dear to my heart to come in, write and offer advice to others who are just starting out. I might have done it, too, if I hadn’t been out of town half the month.
In fact, I know several people who’ve started a book (or three) who just can’t keep moving on said book (or three). Na-No-Wri-Mo is perfect for them.
The thing is, one of the questions I get asked the most is how do I do it?
The answer is a simple one, and one that ultimately disappoints everybody when I say it. Maybe they’re looking for the magic answer, when I don’t have any magic answers. My answer to this question invariably remains the same:
I see their hopes fall, crashing onto that heap of other dead hopes that live in their soul. Surely I’m hiding something—some trick, some useful piece of advice, or even a magic wand!
I have two wands, actually; I bought one at the Harry Potter thing in Orlando—I have Sirius Black’s wand. Sadly, it only ever worked for him.
The other wand was made for me by someone talented in that area, and while it may be useful in turning mice and pumpkins into horses and carriages, it does nothing for me in the realm of writing. How do I know that?
It sits on my shelf and does nothing at all.
Back to writing: I don’t officially engage in Na-No-Wri-Mo. The reason?
I actually DO the same thing five or so times a year. I get up. I feed cats. I make coffee. I sit down at computer.
No, I don’t think everybody can do that. I don’t expect everybody to do that. Most people (they’ll tell you so themselves) have jobs. There’s this habit we all have—of eating, sleeping and getting from one place to the other, and jobs are the way to get those things. I can’t tell you how fortunate I am that writing IS my job, now, because it wasn’t always that way. For years upon years, I put my time in for someone else, doing the best job I could.
None of those jobs were as satisfying as the one I have now.
The thing is, sometimes writing is a breeze. It’s like sailing a boat with a really good wind blowing. You fly across the water.
At other times, it’s like trying to paddle a huge log upstream, using a tree branch.
And—getting a story going, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction—that may be the hardest part of all. If anybody has ever had to prime a pump to make it produce water, then you know what I’m talking about.
A story is sort of the same thing. You pour words in and pump (write) and pump (write). It takes freaking forever to get anything out of it.
Until something comes.
Words are pouring out like gangbusters (or water).
Be careful, though. When you stop, remember to start again as soon as you can.
Otherwise, you’ll be back at stage one, and you remember how hard that was the last time, don’t you? You’re priming the pump again. Therefore, write as much and as often as you can, so the hard work can be behind you.
The secret ingredient, I think, is in the not giving up.
I guess this post is really about NOT GIVING UP, or,
Keep writing. One word leads to another word.
One paragraph leads to another paragraph.
One page leads to another.
One book leads to a sequel.
Writing may become as important to you as eating or breathing.
Your eyes may glaze over in movie theaters or during dull conversations.
Your story may insert itself into dinners with friends. Walks with you dog. Laughs with your co-workers. Arguments with your boss.
All that, of course, will teach you one very important lesson:
You can use those dinners with friends, walks with your dog, laughs with co-workers or disagreements with your boss as fodder (or fill) for your books. Only the names, locations and fine details should be changed to protect YOU from
Happy November, everybody. If there’s a book or a story, short or otherwise, in you, now’s the time to set it free.