I woke up this morning to the thermometer in negative numbers and frost coating the grass and the cars for the first time this fall. It shouldn’t surprise me. After all, it snowed for the first time yesterday.
And so begins our Canadian winter…six months of cold weather when I feel justified in hibernating in my office. Or in my family room with the fireplace going with a cup of hot chocolate. (In fact that sounds like a terrific idea for when I’m writing later.)
Out come the mitts and the hats and the winter coats. Out come the winter boots. And the snow shovels and the scrapers and brushes for the cars.
I still have to change over the calendar to reflect the new month–I’m not ready for it to be November yet. People are already announcing the number of shopping days left til Christmas. *gag*
Another sign I know it’s November? The number of people talking about participating in NaNoWriMo.
What’s NaNoWriMo you ask? It’s short for National Novel Writing Month. Writers vow to write 1,667 words per day so that by the end of the month they have written 50,000 words.
Now since I write for my living, it’s not a big deal for me. When I’m working on any first draft, I write a minimum of 2,000 words a day until the manuscript is finished. Yes, minimum. Some days I write up to 5,000 words a day, and rarely, on a really good day, 8,000 words.
But a lot of unpublished authors get excited by a new shiny idea. They sit down to write it but after that first blush of excitement passes, they run into the wall of “what happens next?” and they get stuck. They get frustrated. They get distracted by another bright shiny idea. They start working on that new story and shove the old project aside to work on “when it’s talking to them again.” Of course, it never does.
I went to a writers’ conference a few years back and had the opportunity to talk to a lot of unpubbed writers. I think out of the dozen or more people I talked to one night, only one, maybe two of them had actually finished a manuscript through to the end. Almost all of them had multiple projects on the go–most between three and six, a couple guessed they had about twenty on the shelves, and one woman–97!
That’s why at that publishing panel I was part of a couple weeks ago for the Toronto Romance Writers, we were each asked to give the audience one piece of advice. Mine? Finish your manuscript. You can have the best, most polished first three chapters imaginable, I continued. You can pitch it to an agent or an editor who will get all excited about it. But…the agent or the editor will need to read the entire story before they can offer you a contract.
So that’s why NaNo exists. To get writers to put their butts in their chair and their hands on their keyboard and WRITE. To finish the damned book.
How do you do that when you hit that “what happens next” wall? Well, that’ll be a post for another day.
Oh, and am I participating in NaNo? Yup. I’ll be working on Troy’s story, the next in the Hauberk series. Now technically you’re supposed to start a new project for NaNo but as a published author with deadlines and contracts, that’s just not possible. My starting wordcount is 9,932. By the end of the month, the story had better be at 59,932 OR the words THE END will be typed on the last page if I finish it off in less than 59K. (I’m not sure whether it’ll take that many words to tell the story or not.) As part of making myself accountable to you, I’ll be putting up a graphic on my sidebar so you can keep track of my progress.