Hey all. Sorry this post is going up a few hours late–I totally forgot the new schedule had me on today until I checked the site and there was no post. *shame*
Anyway, I wanted to start out by giving a shout out to all of you who introduced yourselves yesterday. It was awesome hearing from so many, and learning more about you and what you write. If you haven’t stopped by Faith’s post from yesterday, I’d encourage you to go de-lurk and introduce yourself! Now on to the subject of this post:
Today is the tenth of November, which means thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of people around the world are currently applying butt-in-chair (BIC) and hands-on-keyboard for NaNoWriMo. I saw many of you mention that you are participating in the event, but for those who are unfamiliar, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and is a yearly challenge to write 50k words during the month of November. To achieve that word count, participants have to write 1,667 words a day, every day.
For some, that number may look excessively daunting, for others, much less so. And 50k words total? It does seem an arbitrary number and clearly not a complete novel unless you’re writing category romance or possibly YA. But that’s not the important part. If you’ve visited Magical Words before, you’ve surely heard us mention BIC before. Whatever your thoughts on NaNo, it is an event that encourages thousands of novelists to do just that–and watch the words build quickly. Just ten days in, those keeping exactly to the schedule will cross 16k words today. That’s roughly 1/6 of a 100k word novel that didn’t even exist ten days ago. Bravo!
Now, with all my talk about NaNo, you are probably assuming I’m participating. I’m actually not–my deadlines just didn’t line up properly to allow me to join this year. But, I have participated in the event in the past, and to give credit where credit is due, I can honestly say if I hadn’t participated in NaNoWriMo back in 2005, it is possible that I wouldn’t be published today.
“Why?” You might ask. Did I not write before one magical November in 2005? Oh, I did. By that point I’d been working on “novels” for twelve years–and I had a graveyard full of 10-20k word beginnings that never went anywhere to prove it. No, what NaNo did for me was prove that practicing BIC every day got the story on the page. Also, because I was working on it every day, the book kept my interest and didn’t putter out when I walked away from it for a month or two. (There’s that “write fast” thing Magical Worders are always talking about.)
But there was one more lesson I learned that year. One more thing that NaNo and its arbitrary word count and time limit taught me: to steal time for my writing. I WAS NOT going to lose that challenge, but let’s face it, life is busy–always. I’d always treated writing like I needed several hours of time blocked out to write if I was going to get anything done. Life doesn’t always give us blocks of time. But there are the five minutes while the oven preheats, I could jot down a couple lines then. Lunch hour? Oh yeah, I could pack a lunch and pound out some words during that time. Waiting for a meeting/class/etc to start? Another couple lines. By the end of the night, when I had what previously seemed too short a time to possibly get 1667 words (because six years ago, that was huge for me) I found that the little bits I’d jotted down during the day had already made a huge dent in my word count–if not put me over the daily goal!
It doesn’t take an outside challenge to practice things like BIC and stealing time (though joining in can be a lot of fun. Just remember there are also 11 other months of the year writers need to be writing.) If your life seems too busy to get any writing done, look for those minutes you can steal. They might be in the car while waiting to pick up the kids, while dinner is cooking, or between classes, but whenever you find them, you can put them to good use. And an added bonus? Utilizing the sporadic minutes of downtime throughout the day keeps your story close to the surface and ideas percolating!
So, looking at your own life. Do you see any free moments you can steal?
Happy writing everyone!