Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ninety Days or Thirty--You Choose

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.
7. Relax.
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.


L.T. Elliot said...

I'm doing Nano. I'm all signed up and everything. In fact, if you do it, check me out and be my writing buddy!
I love a good pen, don't you? It really makes writing by hand so much easier. I love that he said to cut out distractions and give yourself the space to come back for research and editing. Good things. Thanks Nichole!

Connie Hall said...

You talked me into it. I did this several years ago, but have avoided the commitment the last few years. I'm signed up, but know I'll need directions do anything different.

Nichole Giles said...

Well, I have to say, you two are both way ahead of me. I haven't signed up yet, but am planning to do it. I'll definitely find you both so we can be buddies.

I can't believe I'm going to commit one of the busiest months of the year to writing an entire novel. But I am--and you can hold me to it.

Thanks for commenting!


Evelyn Curtis said...

Thanks for sharing what you learned. I have recently started writing by hand. I am finding that I am definitely getting a lot more done. While writing on the computer, I tend to back-space every other word to make corrections.

I've never heard of Nano.. but I am looking into it.

Terresa said...

I'm up for it. My WIP is 20+ chapters and stalling. I need a kick in the pants to get on with it.

Good thing all the 9 family birthdays, 2 baptisms and one very big Primary Program is going to be over as of Nov 2.

Sounds like I need to go pen shopping now...

Nichole Giles said...

Okay, people, so I have now officially signed up. Now the problem is I have no idea how to find all my buddies. Come find me!

Username: NicholeGiles. Yeah, I know, original.

But at least I'm findable, right?

Amy said...

I signed up too. This will be my 3rd attempt. Something always comes up. I keep trying in the hope that I will form better writing habits if I am properly motivated. Wish me luck!

Nichole Giles said...

Good luck, Amy. In fact, good luck to all of us. I'm definitely going to need some luck this month. But oh, how fun it'll be.


Heather B. Moore said...

Good luck, Nichole!

Taffy said...

I did NaNo last year and finished with 50K! I usually write my first draft by hand but for NaNo I typed it. So it was all against what I 'normally' do which was good for me.

Nichole Giles said...

Thanks Heather, thanks Taffy! Are you going to join me in taking the challenge?