NaNoWriMo and the Sutton Mass Mysteries
National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, was the key reason that the Sutton Mass Mysteries came into being. At the time I had already published numerous non-fiction books as well as ten medieval romance novels set in 1200s England. I was already swamped with projects and had little thought of taking on yet another one.
However, many of my writing friends showed interest in NaNoWriMo. The gist of NaNoWriMo is that one does research throughout the year, considering characters, investigating locations, and getting ready. And then, on November 1st, everybody begins. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world commit to writing the first draft of their novel in the next 30 days. By November 30th, that first draft is complete.
The novel needs to be at least 50,000 words. That equates to 1,667 words a day on average. With many people only having an hour a day to dedicate to the task, the question was, could it be done? Was it even possible to write out 1,667 words in an hour to lay out that storyline?
I absolutely felt not only that it COULD be done but that this was an ideal way to break through writer's block. I know many writers who dream about writing a book - but who come up with every excuse under the sun for not doing it. They are too busy watching TV. They are too busy playing Facebook games. Someday they'll do it when their research is done. And yet their research is never done. There is always more research to do. People often self-sabotage and put it off because they are afraid of having the book done. They are afraid of having their words judged. It is so much safer to simply say "I haven't gotten to it yet" and to have a potential greatness out there. Taking steps to completion is a risk.
And here's the beauty of NaNoWriMo. You release ALL concerns of perfection. Perfection is not the goal here. The only goal is to train your mind to release the story. You can edit it as much as you wish later on! You can rearrange and polish and juggle the words. Right now, your sole mission is to take that step forward. Put down words to edit. Put down SOMETHING. And the brilliant part of it all is that the more you write, the easier it gets. The more you train your fingers to move, your words to flow, the more your brain gets used to this way of being. The more easily plots and characters and dialogues come to you. The quicker your fingers fly across the keys.
It's even more than that. The more you release old, pending storylines from your head, the more space there is for new, even more brilliant ones to form. We all get better with practice. We all improve with age. The more one goes through this writing practice, the better they get, the easier it gets, and the more fluidly the stories flow. What was creaky in one year becomes smooth sailing in the next, and becomes absolute bliss in the third.
Here are my notes in engaging in NaNoWriMo!
Setting Up my NaNoWriMo Desk
The Daily Log
Sutton Mass Mysteries main page