Today we officially kick off National Novel Writing Month, the annual writing event during which scribes around the world spend the next thirty days working on a novel. To win, participants must write fifty thousand words in one month (no easy task) while cheering and being cheered on by their writer pals. It's utter madness, too, but that's kind of the point.
Work prevents me from officially joining in this year, but I will be writing 51K during November for my clients, so consider me on board in spirit, anyway. Throughout the month I'll be offering what links, resources, ideas and words of wisdom I can to help out. As I do every NaNoWriMo I've also put up my writing how-to e-book, Way of the Cheetah (click on the title to go to the .pdf), which will be available to download, print and share for free until December 1st.
Today I'll tell you the most important bit of writing advice I ever got via romance author Susan Elizabeth Phillips: whatever you do, protect the work. That doesn't just apply to NaNoWriMo, but everything you do on the page whenever you do it. While you are the creator of your stories, and the curator, you're also the guardian. So how do you protect the work? I think the first step is to recognize that they have value -- and I'm not talking about financial, although if you someday sell your stories, that's definitely a possibility.
The work is your treasure, imagined and crafted and brought into existence by you. No one else can tell a story in your words but you, which makes each one you write priceless. If you've never regarded your writing in that light, maybe it's time you should. Stop whining about the work involved. Make time for it. Ask others to respect your writing space and sessions. Don't ask for critiques until the work is ready to be read by others -- and pick carefully who you consult with for writing advice. Finally, get it done before you show it or shop it around. If you were in a workshop creating a diamond necklace, do you think you'd invite random strangers to come in and lean over your shoulder and critique your efforts while you were setting the stones? Why should writing be any different?
It's not going to be easy to write 50K in 30 days, but nothing worthwhile ever simply drops in your lap. That's why we call it the work, and writing can be a lot of hard work over long hours for what seems like little or no reward. Even when you do get something finished and put it out in the world for others to experience, most of the time you won't get back what you put into it.
That said, I think the work itself should be the primary reward. It can also be amazing, incredible, thrilling, flat-out fun. So there's the bit I'll add to the advice pile: Whenever possible, let this be fun for you in any and every way. Have a good time with it. Enjoy!
Since today is not only the start of NaNoWriMo but Sunday, I'm off to write something new and post it online before midnight. Everyone inclined to do the same is invited to join me.
My link: More on Ghost Writer (click on the title to go to the .pdf), with new material beginning on page 147.
For more details on Just Write, click here to go to the original post.
Images credit: Me and my kid. :)