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Posts tagged ‘30 days’

Stranger than Fiction

20160826_082336I’ve always had what you might call an overactive imagination. My entire life, I’ve made up stories in my head. But it wasn’t until two years ago that I ever thought seriously about writing them down.

Well, actually I’ve thought about it, daydreamed about it, most of my life. But for some reason I was convinced I I didn’t have what it takes to be a writer of fiction.

Even as I say it, I realize how absolutely ridiculous that is. But most limiting beliefs are. Like that meme that makes its way around Facebook every so often, of the horse tied to a plastic lawn chair. The caption is something to the effect of: Sometimes the only thing holding you back is in your head.

Two years ago, I decided to challenge that limiting belief. And on September 1, 2014, I started writing my first novel. Chris Baty’s No Plot, No Problem, was my guide through a month-long fiction-writing binge, where I endeavored to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

And I did. The result was an atrocious first draft of a novel that may never see the light of day. And yet, it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever written. I love every single word. Someday I’ll go back and make a serious attempt at editing it. But for now, just having written it is enough to make me pretty damn proud. (I have since finished 2 more first drafts, and am half-way-ish through a third.)

Now, writing a novel in 30 days is not for the faint of heart. There are days when trying to meet the daily word count almost does you in. Even worse was playing catch up if I missed a day. Or five. But then you have one day where you finally get out of your own way and the magic flows. It makes even the most difficult of days worthwhile.

For me, the process was even more exciting than the finished product. Because I discovered that, as much as I love reading fiction, I love writing it even more. It’s play time for me.

I know what you may be thinking. Here I am talking about how much I love writing fiction, but I’ve never actually shared any of it. Well, that’s about to change.

No, I haven’t landed some publishing contract. Not yet, anyway. But a girl has to dream.

I’m setting a new challenge for myself this month. My goal is to write fiction every day for 30 days. Rather than work on a serious project, like a novel or short stories, I’m going to play.

For the last couple of months, I’ve been stretching my fiction-writing muscles with a really cool writing exercise. I picked it up from Lawrence Block in Write for Your Life. It’s essentially a timed free writing exercise, but instead of using a topic as a starting off point, you use a sentence.

The first time I did this exercise, it blew my mind. As you may have gathered from my other blog posts, I tend to get in my own way a lot. But every time I have done this, I am surprised and delighted by the characters and storylines that reveal themselves with absolutely no conscious effort on my part. These aren’t fully formed stories by any means, although I do have a few nuggets that may become seeds for other projects. But they are so much FUN.

So for the next 30 days, I’m going to do one of my fiction free writes every day. And yes, I’m going to post them here.

Holy crap. I can’t believe I just promised that.

To pull this off, I’m going to need your help. Each of my 30 entries will require a starter sentence. Yes, I can pull them from other sources, but it will be so much more fun if you’re involved.

So if you’d like to lend a hand to my little endeavor, please post your submission in the comments below, on Facebook, message me, etc. You will, of course, get a shout out – and my undying appreciation – if I use yours.

And bragging rights, of course, if there are any to be had.

This all sounds like madness to me at the moment, but I’m committed to it now. Wish me luck!

xo

M

Zero to 50K in 30 Days: An Ode to National Novel Writing Month

NaNo-2015-Participant-BannerLadies and Gentlemen, start your novels!

Fifty thousand words. Thirty days. Sounds crazy, right? Especially when you write out the numbers like that. Yet every year, thousands and thousands of people rise to the challenge for National Novel Writing Month. A mad dash, mad cap (and yes, totally maddening) experience. Take it from me – someone who is 1,048 words into her second NaNoWriMo.

(That makes only 48,952 more to go, in case you’re counting.)

What makes (seemingly) normal people decide to take on such a challenge? There are a number of theories. Too much fluoride in the water. Not enough home cooked meals growing up. Microwaves. Monsanto. Exposure to Common Core math. One too many mimosas at brunch. Or, 10.

I can’t, of course, tell you why anyone else participates in NaNoWriMo. But I CAN tell you why I do. Because this 30/50K model was what finally gave me the courage to sit down and write a novel.

I have wanted to write fiction since I cracked the spine of my first Golden Book. A voracious reader from the second I could sound out Dick and Jane, I always felt I was born to write books of my own. Until, of course, I sat down to actually write one. Oh, I tried. And I had all the right ingredients, so to speak: plenty of great ideas, the ability to actually string sentences together, a highly overactive imagination… But I found I lacked two things: the discipline to keep my butt in the chair and belief in myself.

NaNoWriMo – well, the philosophy behind it – helped me accomplish the first part of that by both giving me a concrete word count goal and awakening my competitive spirit. The process was so much more amazing than I ever dreamed it would be. I actually found myself looking forward to writing each day because I couldn’t wait to see what happened with my characters next. It was like reading an amazing novel only FIFTY THOUSAND times better.

And by the time I typed THE END on that first novel, I had long since gotten over my doubts. I didn’t just believe I could do it, I knew I could. Because right there in my hot little hands was a manuscript with my name on it.

I mean, it was the novel equivalent of a steaming pile of horse dung, but that didn’t matter one bit. Because I did it. I wrote A NOVEL. And if I can write one, I can write more, and they’ll be even better.

As I tuck into this year’s NaNoWriMo, I’m actually starting my third novel. And yes, one of these days I’ll actually take one past the first draft stage. Because I hear that’s when the fun REALLY begins – in rewrites.

Not.

That will have to wait until next month, though. Because right now, I have a novel to write. And if I’m going to make that deadline of midnight on November 30, I better dive back in. I still have 619 more words to write to meet my Day 1 word count. And I refuse to let myself get behind this early in the game.

How DO you write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days? You sit your butt in the chair… and write.

And now, without further ado…

Let the novel writing commence!