DeNoWriMo the First

Granted I haven’t written here for a while, but I have been writing since the last time I posted. So much so, that I have decided to declare May the first arbitrary Dennis’s Novel Writing Month (DeNoWriMo I). Over the next 31 days, I plan to churn out 50,000 or so words on a project I have been working on–on and off–since last year’s NaNoWriMo. If May goes well, I may well declare June DeNoWriMo II.

What’s the point of all of this? Well, my hope is that I will have something to report by the end of this year, but you will just have to stay tuned. And, while you’re waiting, why not try YoNoWriMo (your own Novel Writing Month).


2011: A year to write

Frankly, my writing goals for 2011 are not much different from my writing goals for 2010 with perhaps the exception that I’ve taken on another project besides the Eagle Stone in an effort to get something going.

Really, all I want for 2011 is to establish a regular routine of writing that produces some volume of work by the end of the year. If we pretend that I can write 2,000 words a day between now and 31 December, then we can also pretend that I should have 730,000 words to show for it at the end of the year.

While I hope that I write, I also hope that, if you have something you want to write about, you write too. If you need someone to encourage you in that task, please let me know. I am always willing to help encourage other writers as much as I appreciate the encouragement myself.


NaNoWriMo Preview: Getting it done

In the end, every successful writer finds his or her own way to solve the problems associated with writing. They find their own sources of ideas, their own way to develop their ideas, their own pace, even their own places to write the best.

Yet the thing they all share in common is actually doing it. It is the act of writing that separates writers from everyone else, whether that writing takes the form of a weblog, a short story, a novel, or any other kind of writing.

This may seem like an obvious thing, but I find that most people I talk to who lament about wanting to be writers aren’t writing. Anything. Not even a journal or ideas scratched on napkins.

The next 30 days are designed to cure that problem once and for all. If you want to write, and if you don’t talk yourself out of it, sit down at your keyboard and pound out 1,667 words or so for the next 30 days. If you do, even if you don’t make it until the end, you will discover amazing things about yourself along the way, and that is a journey that will have been more than worth it once it is complete.


NaNoWriMo Preview: Don’t be afraid to write crap

If you’re writing for perfection, you’re writing to fail. Perfection is what editing is for.

While writing is a different process for every writer, my style seems to be to create first drafts that are more like skeletal remains (premains?) that finished works. They’re a lot like a T-101 from the movie the Terminator, a shiny mechanical skeleton devoid of form or personality, a caricature of what I want my story to be.

In other words, its crap, and it will need a lot of work before it becomes the story I intended.

Thomas Edison famously said both “I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work” and that “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Those same ideas apply to writing.

Sure, all of us writers want to experience the ecstasy of the moment of creation. I think, to a degree, that’s what we all strive at writing for, yet we cannot ignore that, in some way, writing is a job that we have accepted. Jobs are hard work, and work doesn’t always turn out the way we want it to, especially when the work is creative.

The secret to succeeding at writing is to just write it, knowing full well you’ll probably have to go back and write it again. And again. And again.

That’s OK. It happens to everyone.

Recently, a researcher discovered that Jane Austin’s work benefited as much from her creative efforts as it did from the efforts of a good editor, which is unfortunate because most people have believed the fiction perpetrated by her brother after her death that her novels sprang from her pen complete. Unfortunately, the fiction that good writers are somehow able to produce perfect, complete work without effort has infected writers continuously since those heady days where every artist was a great master.

The reality is something entirely different. Most writers have to craft their stories the same way potters or sculptors craft clay. Most writers write something, then add to it, take away from it, wad it up and throw it in the trash, then dig it out and add and take away some more. That’s the natural process of writing, and again, that’s OK.

What’s most important, especially if you’re just starting as a writer, is that you’re writing at all. Start with quantity first. The quality will eventually come.


NaNoWriMo Preview: Work ethic

Another question that people who are not writing yet tend to ask writers is something along the lines of, “How do you do it?” “Do what?” I usually ask, to which they respond, “You know, write.”

Well, my years of experience tell the that, in order to write, you have to, well, write.

It’s really as simple as that, after a fashion. Writers write, usually every day, and usually a large number of words.

The pace for NaNoWriMo, as an example, is 1,667 words per day. If you write exactly that many words every day for the 30 days of November, you will end up with 50,010 words on 30 November, 10 more than is necessary to “win”.

My goal has been, for a while, to write 2,000 dedicated words a day. What are dedicated words?

As it turns out, I write a lot in the form of emails, posts and replies on social networking sites, an a variety of other venues, mostly on the internet. That kind of writing is what I call opportunistic writing. It can end up totaling thousands of words a day, and most of that kind of writing amounts to very little in the long run.

On the other hand, dedicated words are those committed to a specific idea with the intent of developing that idea to a conclusion. I rarely count my opportunistic writing toward the dedicated total, which means I must budget my daily allotment of words carefully to be sure I have enough to dedicate.

Now, I know that some people write more words, and some people write less. I think there is a critical mass of dedicated words a writer needs to write every day to make the effort worth it, but that critical mass will vary from person to person and sometimes from day to day. While my goal is 2,000, I have, on occasion, written many more words than that.

However many words you might write, the key is that you must be writing them every day. Set a goal you know you can reach and start writing. That’s the only way it works.