As part of my participation in My 500 words, I am posting what I write each day.
If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time this year, I hope you win. And I hope that if you don’t, you learn from it and try again next year. Writing is about learning by doing and finding out what works.
I never went to school to learn to write. I’ve taken workshops here and there, attended conferences and seminars. I’ve studied the craft for years, reading Writer’s Digest and articles online about writing. I follow author blogs and Twitter feeds and listen to author interviews on podcasts. I’ve read good books about writing, namely Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and On Writing by Steven King. A decade of this made me a better writer, above all, writing is what made me who I am as a writer.
Everyone has a voice. In addition to the tone and inflection of their spoken words, that voice comes out in any way they communicate. A parent or teacher can tell which child drew a particular picture by a signature style, colors, subject, even the direction of the drawn lines. The same goes with writing.
Every writer has a voice that’s uniquely theirs. But it won’t begin to stand out until that writer recognizes it as their own and begins to refine it. The only way to learn it is to write. Do you want to become a better writer? By all means, study the craft, even go to school to learn to write if you can. But none of that matters without the writer actually writing things, every day if possible.
Yesterday I promised to share why I failed my first year. I had a good story idea in mind but never completed it, and it wasn’t because my laptop crashed. I think I used it as an excuse. Now what I will say is my own opinion. Others will disagree with me. Like any writer, you need to find out what works for you. But this is one reason why I succeeded the next two years. I planned to write every day.
November is a great time to write a novel if you live in part of the world that observes Daylight Saving Time. Although I think it’s a scourge and would rather we didn’t have it, Daylight Saving Time has an advantage. If you’re used to waking up at 6:00 every morning, it becomes 5:00 after the first Sunday of the month. You’re already acclimated to waking up early. Granted, that hour has to come from somewhere. You’ll be ready for bed an hour earlier each evening. What’s stopping you from going to be early?
For many people, it’s just not possible to go to bed an hour earlier. Kids, chores, even a job might prevent that. I work until 10pm most nights. But if your only reason to stay up is television, I encourage you to cut TV out for the month of November. If I got started, I could go on and on about cutting TV out entirely forever. It’s little more than passively staring at an electronic appliance.
But that’s not what I’m going on about today and I won’t go into it tomorrow. Today it’s about this: plan to write every day for as long as it takes to produce 1,667 words. That might be two hours for some of us. That might mean getting up very early. It could mean splitting the time up. But have the time set aside to do it. I failed my first year of NaNoWriMo because I thought I could just sit at the computer whenever I found the time or felt like it and work on my novel. I succeeded the next year when I made the time, woke up early and wrote for 90-120 minutes each day.
I’ve got something else to share tomorrow about writing in general