Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”  – Virginia Woolf

I haven’t been writing here at my blog very frequently. From 2008 – 2016, I wrote every week, but in 2017 I have taken a different approach. What have I been up to? Writing. Offline. On my computer, with the internet shut off, pouring out words on a blinking screen. And I am making progress, which thrills me more than I can say. Yes, I am in the throes of writing a book.

And, now that it is almost November, National Novel Writing Month, I am joining forces with the rest of the #NaNoWriMo community and writing alongside others tackling first drafts.

What Is NaNoWriMo?

Everyone has a story.

Every November, the #NaNoWriMo phenomenon goes on — National Novel Writing Month — when writers complete an entire 50,000 first draft of a novel in one month.

So you think one month is really not enough time to complete a first-draft of a novel? Especially a month with a week involving family and feasts and festivities? You might be right. But even if you don’t finish a novel in the month of November, the fact is there is no better time to start.

Vintage Czech Typewriter

How to Write a Book

A novel is a big undertaking. 80,000 words in most novels. NaNo-ers shoot for less, a first draft. This year, I’m working on a new book and I’m doing what I can in essentially one hour per day. One hour is better than none, and I’ve been working on it for many months now. I have a huge pile of words in front of me, and I’m looking to NaNoWriMo to help me finish the draft.

The best part about NaNo is the energy derived from knowing so many others are writing forward, too.

Why write?

Writing is cathartic, therapeutic in ways I can’t describe. I am a better and more complete person by writing. Story is a powerful connector in the world, and there is no better way to engage in story than by writing and finishing the story that is in your heart.

When can I find time to write?

Swap the hour of watching television or surfing the web to instead write. Or the hour before everyone else wakes in the morning. The lunch hour at work or the hour before you go to bed (which is what I’m doing right now and loving it) or the hour after dinner. Just one hour is all you need. Every day.

What do I write?

Well, I would start by thinking what it is you like to read, and even reflect on shows you like to watch. Thriller? Romance? Literary? Memoir?

How do I know the proper format, margins, etc?

Since many books are devoted to this question, I’ll start by pointing to some I think are very helpful. The First Five Pages and The Plot Thickens by Noah Lukeman, Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, Novel Idea by Angela Hunt, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne, On Writing by Stephen King, and my personal favorites: Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell and Stein on Writing by Sol Stein along with his How to Grow a Novel.

Writing Is Hard Work.

The most grueling thing in writing each day is —writing each day. No matter how comfy the chair, no matter how sleek and powerful the computer, no matter how simply the clock says it’s time to write, it’s always easier to do other things.

BUT, if you love the story, you’ll get it onto the page.

Some benefits found in the discipline of writing each day:

1. The story stays fresh and continues to flow day after day by writing even a little—500 words–each day.

2. Writing at a similar time each day can be beneficial. The body knows what to expect. The mind comes ready to write, and the flow is easier.

3. The story becomes a place to look forward to going each day, if only for an hour.

4. The routine lends itself to the others in your life respecting your time to write. Distractions are always plentiful, but with a routine hour set aside each day, writing becomes a priority.

Are you writing in NaNoWriMo? Leave your NaNo name in the comments below so we can connect (I’m jenniferlynking) — and good luck!

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