Writing a Novel in Thirty Days
Or How I Did it Without Killing Anybody - Christopher Reilly
I became aware of National November Writer's Month through my writer's
group. The gist of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 word novel during the 30
days of November. Don't go back and rewrite or make corrections. After
all, that's what 2nd drafts are for. If you don't have an idea, or get stuck,
write something, anything. Don't worry about it if it stinks. During the rewrite
you can un-stink it, or spray some air freshener or boil some potpourri.
I thought this was just the thing for me. Many times I have started a novel
and I keep going back, rewriting, making things perfect before I go on.
Eventually I find I spend less and less time on it until I don't like it anymore,
and then I drop it completely. So this exercise I felt, would keep me going.
Completing the challenge requires writing 1666 words per day. Working in
the evening after dinner, when my regular work was done, I would write till 1
AM, but often I would tap away until 2, 3, or 4 AM if I was on a roll. Some
days I wrote more, some days less, but I always wrote something. I kept a
sheet detailing how many words I had written that day, where I stood on
being at the required amount of words for that date, and my total progress.
In my writer's group, 5 people started and only I finished. Internationally,
167,150 people started, and
32,173 completed the challenge. It's not easy, but what is the saying about
valuable things do not come easily? Hey, if writing a novel was easy,
everyone would be doing it. And look at it this way: at the end of everything,
you'll have your first novel. That's a good feeling.
In my case, I didn't finish the arc of the story, but that was my intention, that
is, to get as far as I could, and then resume at a slightly slower pace after
the competition was over. All I knew when I started was that I wanted a
Private Investigator novel, and where the story took place. It is surprising
where the story went, and the plot became quite detailed and seemingly
It's sobering to note that eventually the length will have to be about double.
For a publisher to consider publishing a first time novel, it needs to be
between 80,000 and 120,000 words. Anything less will be grouped into
juvenile, and longer is too expensive for them to take the chance on you. All
that printing cost's money.
You can do it. Remember, you're not Hemingway. Many famous writers
work this way today, including Nora Roberts. I know, I know. "But she's
a...Romance novelist! Yes, but she also writes other types of novels,
including the highly popular "In Death" detective series. She writes 8 hours
per day, 5 days a week, 9 to 5. With "Fantasy in Death" being published in
2010, she's written 190 full-length novels. 164 of them on the New York
Times Bestseller list. This is since 1981, for an average of 7 books a year.
There is no writer more prolific, not even Stephen King. "Read and write
four to six hours a day. If you cannot find the time for that, you can't expect
to become a good writer," he says. He writes 2000 words per day with 73
Novels to his credit beginning wih Carrie in 1974. Read his "Everything
You Need to Know About Writing Successfully - in Ten Minutes" for lots
of great information.
Can you do it? Of course you can, and you don't have to wait for next
November either. Why not do it on your own? You can start anytime, and if
you find the pace a little too grueling, do it in two months. That's only 833
words per day. Get a group of your friends to do it as well. Then you'll have
some support and camaraderie. Go ahead. Do it. Happy writing,
Don't do rewrites.
Stick to your schedule.
Don't worry if it's bad.
Don't give up.