As November looms, I'm starting to hyperventilate. Why? Because November is National Novel Writing Month, and I'm finally planning to finish a draft of the novel I've been sketching and researching and outlining and beginning to draft for a few years now.
Though I'm a life-long writer, my work has almost exclusively rested within the realm of nonfiction. I'm not sure I'm cut out for fiction, but I've always wanted the experience of writing a novel. And I have the idea and groundwork laid out to make it happen.
The obstacles to finding large blocks of time to devote to fiction writing over the last three years have been considerable: two tough pregnancies, two babies, a new blog and business and lots of travel. Oh, and procrastination and fear. Lots of fear. Fear of failure. Fear of success. What if the book is terrible? What if the book is actually good and then I have to find a publisher and do a book tour and interviews? Okay, I'm getting ahead of myself...
There are always excuses, especially in this phase of life. November is about throwing those excuses out the window—letting the laundry pile up, losing more sleep than usual, imbibing too much coffee and wine—and writing intensely for a concentrated period of time.
To prepare, I've spent the month of October frantically working on all the projects I would normally take on in November, including writing blogs, designing holiday cards, planning Cricket's birthday party, editing client photos and on and on. I'm also sifting through research, re-reading relevant books and learning new software to help me better organize the entire process of creating a novel.
This Friday, November 1, I will embark on the small task of writing 50,000 words in 30 days—that’s an average of 1,700 words a day. Maybe 1,700 words doesn't sound too tough for a day's work—I’m a writer after all. But we'll all get sick about 10 times in those 30 days, Jeff will travel, we'll host birthday parties and Thanksgiving, and I'll get maybe an hour out of 24 to myself...Life will keep moving at a crazy pace.
But I'm putting those excuses aside, accepting that this draft will be rushed and awful and confused. That's what first drafts are all about. It's officially time to write a novel. Anyone want to join me?
(P.S. My sister, Erin, successfully wrote a 50,000-word novel draft last November and inspired me to give this strategy a try. Thanks, Er!)
Above: One portion of the novel—I think—is set on a ranch here in the Blue River Valley, at the foot of the Gore Range in Colorado. This image is available here as a print, framed art, stretched canvas, stationery, pillow, tote bag or iPhone/iPod/iPad/laptop case or skin.
Click here to visit my nature photography shop.
I'm Julia Soplop, writer and photographer. I believe there is something profound in bearing witness to moments of joy and pain in others’ lives. My husband, three girls and I live outside of Chapel Hill, NC. You can read more about me here.