Most successful authors will tell you they write every day, and while I thought I understood why – they make their living with writing, therefore they must have to do it often enough – I didn’t really understand. After committing myself to the lunacy of NaNoWriMo, I’m beginning to see things differently.
Prior to November my writing had taken on a life of its own. I’d just started the third novel in my mystery series and the story was drawing me to the keyboard every day. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was having so much fun with it my evenings and weekends were filled with nothing but throwing down words to move the story along. Puking out the plot, I sometimes call it. Just get it down and worry about the consequences later. The best part about the plot puking is, often, it’s the characters who are doing all the work for you. I was simply along for the ride.
Not only was the novel going well, but I had this idea for a new series in a genre I’d never written before. Somehow, in between working on the novel, I managed to write a romance novella that grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go. In just a few days this thing gushed out. I literally couldn’t sleep until I had the thing done. Even before it was finished another novella idea started to nag me, an idea that would go along with the first one. And so, I have a new mini-series to work on. It’s a refreshing new thing, a totally new direction and so far, it’s a surprise and a joy to write.
Then I heard about National Novel Writing Month. I’d heard people talk about NaNoWriMo, but didn’t understand the commitment, to write 50k words in 30 days. Essentially, writing what could be the first draft of a novel in one month.
What the hell? I thought. Why not?
So I came up with another idea, in a genre I’d never written before, did some research, threw down some thoughts about what the story was, some character background and on November 1, I got started. Today, on day 12, I’m 24k words into the story. I’ll be well over half way to the goal by the end of today.
I don’t think I’d be anywhere near that 24K number if I hadn’t already been writing every day. If I’d been new to the practice, I’m sure I would have needed time to work up to that kind of output.
And that’s when I figured it out. Successful writers don’t write every day because they need to in order to earn a living. Sure, they need the output and the output puts food on the table.
Successful writers write everyday because they need to stay in shape, they have to flex the muscles, get the blood pumping and keep the engines tuned. Trying to write 50k words in a month without having done some of the preparation would have been like trying to run a marathon without having done a few 5ks first, without the daily workouts that are necessary to prepare yourself for the challenge.
Can you write 50k in a month without the prior workout? Sure. But you’d probably be huffing and puffing in the end and the finish might not be pretty. Untrained, it’s still possible to dash through the finish line knowing that you’ve accomplished something.
But don’t we all want to finish pretty? Don’t we want to be that person who finishes the marathon looking just as fresh as the moment we started?
So this writer will continue to exercise her writing muscle daily, if possible. And if the ideas keep coming to me, I’ll have to in order to get them all down on paper.