By Nichole Giles
At the League of Utah Writers Roundup last month, I had the opportunity to attend a novel writing class taught by author Kirt Hickman. As part of this novel class, we were given the following tips to use in helping complete our first draft:
1. Write early in the morning or late at night.
2. Eliminate distractions.
3. Write by hand.
4. Don’t stop to edit. Leave blank spaces and keep going.
5. If you make a decision to change something, don’t fix it now. Make a note and keep going.
6. Don’t stop to do research, make a note and keep going.
8. Work a minimum of one hour a day for first draft. This way you can likely be finished with this draft in roughly 90 days or less.
Kirt then handed us each a piece of unlined paper and a really awesome Bic Velocity pen. We were told to close our eyes, uncross our legs, and take several deep breaths. When we opened our eyes, he started a timer and told us to start writing. The idea, he later explained, was that by using unlined paper, we could feel free to write however we wanted, without restrictions. The pen was one of those really nice ones that flows flawlessly from word to word, and seems to fly over the paper without much effort by the writer. We had five minutes. In that time I wrote almost two hundred words—which I did add to my work in progress. When we multiplied those words into an hour, I could’ve written over a thousand words. Actually, I think it was something around 1700. Yep. That definitely means I could have a rough draft written in three months.
That is, if I actually followed through with dedicating that time, not getting distracted, and feeling the groove every time I opened my computer/notebook. Relaxing is generally easier said than done in my experience.
Which brings me to my point. We’re heading into November—which happens to be National Novel Writing Month. For most people, November is a rotten month in which to dedicate yourself to writing an entire novel. Especially if you’re having Thanksgiving dinner at your house (me), and even more so if you’re responsible for the bulk of the family holiday shopping (me again). But then, as I proved in October, August, and April, during Tristi Pinkston’s book in a month challenges, every month is busy in a different way. Sometimes it takes a program like this to give us a kick in the tail feathers and motivate us to move on through.
I believe it’s time for me to put Kirt Hickman’s theory to my personal test. I have one novel about 2/3 finished, and another in the outlining stage. What do you think? Should I do NaNoWriMo? I may not complete an entire fifty thousand words, but I could probably do thirty, much in the way Kirt claims is possible. Am I up to the challenge? Are you?
If you’re thinking of joining hundreds or thousands of other authors in this yearly challenge, I want to know. Let’s do this thing together! Maybe we can all write a bad novel that can be edited to shreds and resurrected into something great.
Hey, it could happen. Let’s get planning.