When I decided to write a novel for National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo, I had no idea if I could. You see, a five-year-old child inhabits my brain and can throw quite the tantrum. If I don’t want to do something, she sends waves through the entire length of my spine which becomes rigid. Then she starts chanting, “I don’t want to. I don’t want to! I DON’T WANT TO!” This screaming fit is usually accompanied by the stomping of feet and the transformation of ordinary household objects into projectile missiles.
Knowing what could happen, I had been reluctant to join the madness of NaNoWriMo. What I didn’t realize was the five-year-old has a fraternal twin. After committing to the insanity, he came to my rescue when I hit the 25,000 word wall. This child is super stubborn and won’t give up no matter what. He set his stance and lifted his chin toward the computer screen. When I really wanted a day off and the hissy fit had hit a new high, he told her, “Shut the hell up!”
It worked! The screaming stopped and I was able to settle back into my pace.
After 23 days, I finished a 50,000 word rough draft.
What did I learn other than realizing I have arguments in my head?
- Heating pads are very effective for neck pain.
- Building word totals can be as addictive as a treat in one of Pavlov’s Dogs maze experiments, especially when trying to make or beat a daily average.
- Competition between others in buddy groups, is similar to running a race. The desire to stay in the middle of the pack and pace myself kept me going until the end. I imagined the back of the group kicking me in the butt as they drew near.
- The only way to write a first draft is by flying through it without correcting or rereading any of it. I know my rewrite will be a challenge, but the main storyline is there. It’s easy to slash and burn or blow up pages with a word processor. I can deal with that later.
- Time spent setting up plot points on post-it notes and sticking them to a poster board in October paid off. A couple of times, I wondered what should happen next. Instead of over-thinking it, I studied my board and wrote a scene which moved the plot forward. I had to trust my gut.
- I learned that I am totally motivated by attaboys or encouragement, enthusiasm, and positive reinforcement from others to accomplish a goal. Okay. I already knew that. Virtual and real life cheer-leading from the sidelines and within the pack kept me on track and moving ahead. I could hear them shouting, “Go! Go! Go!”
- Hyphenated words are only counted once. Dang!
- Just like hitting the halfway point wall, I needed my positive inner voice to carry me through the last few thousand words. I had imagined seeing the finish line would draw me into a writing frenzy. Instead, I cut way back and skied. Taking the day off ended the, I don’t want to, rant. The next day, the stubborn little tyrant had replaced the tantrum child. Once again, he lifted his chin toward the screen to keep me on pace to finish.
- After writing the second book in the series, I decided to write all three before querying an agent. It took almost two years to write the draft of my first book. The second took three weeks. I’ve learned a ton in the process. I’m looking forward to rewriting them both while weaving the underlying story throughout and tying up loose ends in the third with a crazy-ass bow.
- I am willing to do what it takes to get to the next level of writing and keep my readers entertained. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time just because I’m in a hurry to publish. I have downloaded and bought copies of books I’ve figuratively and literally thrown across my bedroom in frustration. I don’t want mine to land in the proverbial pile.
- Writing in the morning and late in the day are times when my brain slows down enough to daydream about my characters and let them play out scenes.
- The big drawback spending hours writing a book every day is dreaming about the book all night and not getting a break. I’ll never understand why I choose that when I could be having sex dreams. Sheesh!
- It’s true that doing something every day for three weeks becomes a habit. After finishing the book, I stayed in hyperdrive and decorated my whole house for Christmas, entertained on Thanksgiving, cleaned and cyber-shopped. I am expecting a big crash any day now…
- I dreaded creating our annual Christmas card because it had been a year since I had drawn anything, but still in the NaNoWriMo vortex, I cranked out the illustrations. What a surprise!
- After searching for a photo for this blog post, I had a Eureka moment. I should include illustrations for my blog posts! We’ll see how that goes since the twins are lurking…
With every book there are challenges. I look forward to finishing the series. I just need to set up a word counter on my blog, hire a cheering section, and put that spoiled child, who inhabits my brain, in time out.
What have you learned from writing?