National Novel Writing Month: be there or be square
I don’t write as much as I should. I have managed to pump out over a million words, but that sounds like more than it really is, especially when some of what I’ve written is sheer navel-gazing. Not to put too fine a point on it.
November is the one short window of time when I can’t help but write a novel. It may not be much of a novel…scratch that. It definitely won’t be much of a novel, at least not without buttloads of revision. However, it’s one more novel than I might otherwise write. For me, any anxiety that it might not be the best thing ever is entirely beside the point. One of my writer buds, Todd, shared a story that appears in the book Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. In this story, a ceramics teacher divided his class into 2 groups. One group was told they’d be graded entirely on the quantity of the work they produced while the other was told they would be graded on quality.
If someone in the quantity group made 50 lbs. of pots, they’d get an “A”, 40 lbs. would earn them a “B”, etc. The ones in the quality group only had to produce one pot, but it had to be “perfect” to get an “A”. If it needed a tweak or two, the pot would get a “B”, etc.
So what happened? When it was all over, the “quantity” group ended up producing more pots of greater quality. They had plenty of opportunities to practice and learn from their mistakes. The “quality” group had a lot of theories about perfection, but the theories didn’t appear to translate to better work. Makes a person think. Anyway, this November, as I have since 2010, I’m throwing 50,000 pots…er, 50,000 words or so at a story idea I have, and seeing what I learn from doing it.
I’m not saying that it’s going to be easy. Writing 2000 words a day, give or take, will take a lot of will power or ego strength or something. A lot of other things might not get done—like vacuuming or meals cooked from scratch. Luckily my sainted sister always hosts Thanksgiving, so I won’t have that issue. And there are a few days—like Cookie Day or Thanksgiving—when I may write fewer words, and which I’ll have to make up for on another day.
I also intend to be especially good to myself—mostly cookies and almost no radishes. That is some stellar advice I got from another writing bud, Jen.
Jen and Todd and a lot of other fellow travelers/Nanowrimos are a huge part of why I know this is doable. If you want to write a novel in November, I can’t say this strongly enough: do it with friends. I’m hosting a couple of write-ins in the Chicago suburbs on November 1st (and 22nd) and you’re thoroughly welcome to join us there.
What if you want to write a novel, but live in a galaxy far, far away from Chicago? I’d still love connecting with you via the National Novel Writing web site. My handle there is Cee-Bee.
You in? Please leave a comment below with any questions (or fast-novel-writing tips) you’d like to share.