One of my friends is writing a book. I know a thing or two about that. Written a couple myself. I write books like some buy new outfits. So, I wanted very much to be the first reader/editor to her book.
She started with gusto, an excitement that placed a grin on her face. Then the book became one of those things that was more overwhelming than fun.
I know that look. I’ve lived that look. I hate that look.
What does it take to write a book? So, many people will say it’s character development, it’s plotting, it’s the desire. For some that may work but for me it’s the get-that-darn-thing-on-paper technique. Some will call it butt-in-chair but it’s a bit more than that.
It’s about a target.
I’ve been really into targets lately. Targets forces you to focus. The bull’s eye in the middle of all those circles is a goal. Gotta hit the small circle to win.
Writing a book is a bit like that — you got to have a goal and for that first draft the goal is to finish it.
This is what I suggested to my friend: NaNoWriMo it.
Yes, I made that into a verb.
NaNoWriMo is the short version of National Novel Writing Month. Happens every November. It’s awesome. The basic premise is to write 50,000 words, a novella length manuscript, in 30 days.
Now, there have been some writers I’ve run into that hate — HATE — this concept. To that I say judgmental, much? Don’t worry about everyone else’s book, mucky muck writer. You have your own book to finish, don’t worry about the rest of the mortals.
So, I suggested to my friend that she take the next 30 days to write the first draft of this book. This is where she’ll put down the bones to the story, the basic what-for-nots. Writing, as I’ve said countless times, comes in the revision. That’s where the meat gets put on the bone. There will be several revisions and rewrites and new levels of frustration. But that level can’t happen without bones.
I also shared with her something that was helpful to me. A NaNoWriMo spreadsheet. It’s just an amazing thing that made me so happy and helped me win last year’s writing quest. You can keep eyeing your progress through out the process and it will count down the days and words until you get to 50,000.
So what does it take to write a novel? Discipline. Simple, right? Simple like pulling a 747 by yourself. But it’s still fun and still part people people’s dreams as it should be. Nothing compares to watching that baby print for the first time once it’s all done.
I promise. Go. Write.