By Ann Minnett
The current draft of my second novel takes up more space in my head than it does on my desk. Honestly, this novel needs to simmer unattended in a file drawer for a few weeks while I regroup. We’re a little sick of each other.
Two luxury problems fill the void almost immediately: 1) autumn is my favorite time of year in NW Montana, and 2) a dream of my third novel, the fresh promise of ‘the not yet written.’
(Pause here to stroll outside, take some photos, breathe clean mountain air, and talk to my husband working on an old MGB in the shop.)
Luxury problem #2 is not so easily handled.
Lucky for me, there’s no better time for a new project than NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which takes place in November. I’m taking the challenge for the first time. This declaration is my way of holding feet to the fire in hopes of following through.
Our own Kathy Dunnehoff spoke about NaNoWriMo at the Flathead River Writers’ Conference last month, encouraging novices to set any personal writing goal for the month. However, most participants set a goal of 50,000 written words. That’s 1,667 words per day, every day. Even on Thanksgiving. Even traveling to Tennessee mid-month for a family reunion. Even… Aside from self-discipline, all it takes is determined writing without second guesses or edits. That and some planning in October—a story arc and an understanding of my main character.
October 12th finds me without a plan for my NaNoWriMo project and nothing sketched out on paper. Undaunted and with the confidence of one who doesn’t know better, here’s where I start:
The novel will take place in small-town Montana.
The protagonist is a woman who has taken the geographical cure, but no matter where she goes, there she is.
So much for page 1. A rough outline of what happens on page 2 and beyond will fall loosely into place in the coming 19 days. My intentions are clear. Starting on November 1st, I vow to write with a vengeance and describe my progress next month both here and in my own blog. Ernest Hemingway once said, “All first drafts are shit.” Yes! His famous quote permits my modest expectation for quality—a vital ingredient for NaNoWriMo success.
I’m jazzed. How about you? Have you almost finished that first novel and need a kick in the rear to complete it? Do you have a story that simply won’t stop bugging you? Join in the NaNoWriMo fun. Get inspiration from other writers, and together we’ll finish a piece of writing.
November 30th will come around whether or not I’ve written 50,000 words. The manuscript I’ve set aside today will molder for my attention whether or not I write 50,000 new words. So why not try?