So here’s the thing: I’ve been writing since I was eight or nine, when we had creative writing time at school. That was when I’d pull out my blue notebook, (the one with the lines spaced close together just the way I liked it) and work on my Power Rangers fan fiction.
But even in all the years that followed, after committing–and this is an educated guess–umpteen gazillion words to paper and screen, I still hadn’t written a full book.
Well it’s not like I wasn’t trying. But I’d get partway into a book, decide it was crap and go back and edit, get bored and start another book, decide that was crap and go back and edit, get bored again, and the cycle continued. So I had bunch of half finished books that, while beautiful from the waist up, could only drag their legless bodies around story purgatory with all the other abandoned epics and cancelled TV shows.
This went on for…well way to long, until I discovered a way to force myself to sit down everyday and work on one project until it was done.
Nanowrimo to the rescue! Some of you may already know Nanowrimo, for those who don’t, It stands for National Novel Writing Month. Every November, writers all over the world take up the challenge of writing 50,000 words before December 1st. And to this day it’s the only way I’ve been able to finish a draft. Because every November, I annoy all my Facebook friends with updates on how far along I am. I brag to all my students that I’m writing a book. I tweet and Instragram and let the world know, I am GOING to write a book this month. And then I have to do it, or look like a jackass.
It’s very effective.
Last October, I wrote an outline for my story using the Snowflake Method. Writers seem to either be “Outliners” or “Pantsers” (those who write by the seat of their pants). I’m all about the outlining ’cause I like knowing what I’m writing ahead of time, having scenes to look forward to, and building stories around characters.
In November I retreated to my little apartment, next to my window with a view of the Tokyo skyline and sipped green tea while pounding out thousands of words a day, only taking breaks to run to the grocery store and buy bento (lunch boxes). And when I came out the other side, mentally exhausted and no longer able to stand the natural light of the sun, I had…a draft! Actually it’s kind of crap but it’s done…or at least very close to done at 50,000 words. And I know I can whip it into shape with editing.
I’m really excited about this year’s story, and after a break in January I’ll be editing in February and then I have the audacity to try to find an agent. And it’s all thanks to Nanowrimo. So if you’re an aspiring writer who has trouble actually writing, take the challenge come next November, or set up your own challenge any time you want. The trick is to let people (lots of people) know, so that your only options are success or horrible, scarring public humiliation.
So what are you waiting for? Get writing, and good luck!