There are so many novels and short stories that are sitting unfinished. Today, most of them are on hard drives on computers. Do you have one of them? Tsk tsk.
I think a large majority of folks believe they have a novel in their head worth writing. I think they are right. I thought that for years but was always too busy to sit down and start it. Sometimes I would be ready to start “my book”, but I was overwhelmed by the thought of actually starting a “book”. I mean, what do I know about writing, proper punctuation, grammar, structure, plot, editing or publishing? I didn’t study composition or English in college. I just had a few stories in my head I would like to tell.
Could you write your novel in a month? That way it wouldn’t be like so many writers who spend years getting their book finished. It sounds impossible doesn’t it? I never heard of such a crazy idea until the summer of 2010. There was an ad in the local fish-wrap that said the “Writers of Kern” were having a meeting and it was open to the public. I went. There was a young lady who was the guest speaker and her topic was the National Novel Writing Month Contest (NaNoWriMo)www.nanowrimo.org/
She said every November approximately 300,000 people from all over the world enter this contest to try to write 50,000 words in 30 days of November. The more I fantasized about it the more I thought I should try it. Yes, I am retired so I do have more time than working folks. I broke it down to approx. 1600 words a day. I left that “Writers of Kern” meeting and decided I would join their group and enter the November contest. I went home and told my wife I was going to write a 50,000 word novel in November and she simply stated, “Go for it.”
So I entered and I did it. Over 20,000 of us actually wrote the 50,000 words in 30 days. I completed my first novel in that 30 day time period and the word count was 62,000. Yes, it was sloppy and full of clutter and improper grammar, punctuation and errors. But I wrote a book; a fiction-book and it had some action, emotions and adventure. I did it again this past November and also started a third novel that I’m doing the slow-writing technique. I almost have the first book edited and polished to my liking and I’ll let you know when I have it ready.
My point in all this hubris is saying I’m not anything special. You can do this too if you have any desire to write that book that’s been burning in your brain for too many years. After I did the two novels, each in 30 days, I found out some fascinating statistics.
Sara Gruen also turned out a novel during NaNoWriMo and it became the best-selling “Water for Elephants”, a number one best seller and a hit movie. Anthony Burgess wrote “Clockwork Orange” in 3 weeks. Jack Kerouac typed his epic adventure, “On the Road” on a 120-foot long roll of paper in 20 days. Georges Simenon wrote each of his 75 Inspector Maigret novels in less than 2 weeks. Ray Bradbury had a couple noisy kids in his small house so he rented a typewriter in the UCLA library for 10 cents an hour. The fact that money was short pushed him to finish “Fahrenheit 452” in 9 frantic days. And my winner for writing “fast” is Robert Louis Stevenson. After he was inspired by a horrible nightmare, he wrote “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” in 6 days. Mr. Stevenson’s ego was bruised by his wife’s rough critique of “Dr. Jekyll” and he burned his first draft.
I’m glad my wife liked mine.
Don’t let that “book” of yours lie inert among your dying brain cells. Try the November contest and have fun with it. You don’t have to tell anybody or you can brag about it like me. I guarantee the process to be rewarding.