how the hell does someone write a whole book in a month?

As many others are doing, right now, probably right this very second, I have accepted the challenge of NaNoWriMo.  You know the one, the crazy writing exercise that a few hundred thousand writers take on every November?  Write one book, 50 000 words, in 30 days.  Well, for the last 2 years I’ve watched November come and go without rising to the occasion, but this year I thought I’d give it a go.

Now, it’s November 10, so I thought I’d share a bit about how its gone for me so far.

Straight up, I feel like the exercise (and it is only an exercise, I’ll come back to this in a minute) is going well.  It’s been 10 days, and I’ve just surpassed the 25 000 word mark.  Are most of those words extra padding and probably need a healthy edit once the first draft is done?  Yep.  Definitely.  But, every bit of info or helpful hints from other writers tell me not to edit, do not go back, don’t even look at what you’ve written until December.  Or later.  Just get your story down.  Give it a beginning, middle, and end.  Complete the rough story, the first draft, the bones of the thing first.  Then, and only then, should you considered going back in and twisting that precious word count around.


To help my brain, I sketched up a map of the main city.
To help my brain, I sketched up a map of the main city.


Just an exercise?

Most advice I’ve sen floating around tells me to keep in mind that the goal is simply to write a book in a month.  It doesn’t have to be a great book, as long as it tells the story, makes sense, and keeps you going.  This is, I understand, more about strengthening your habit.  Learn to focus when you have to focus.  It’s not about ignoring everything around you and letting other responsibility fall away (thought that is definitely happening), but more about learning how to do that when you need to.  Figuring out how to ignore useless responsibilities for a month can prepare you for the time when (hopefully) your publisher is breathing down your neck and needs you to get to work.  Right?  I hope…

Another thought I had about the exercise nature of NaNoWriMo is this.  You know how if you talk to someone every damned day you can talk more about the little things about life?  But then, if you run into someone you haven’t seen in a year or two you have nothing to say?

Learn to write everyday, and you be able to talk about the little things, notice the little things about your characters.

Alright, so you planned for it?

Hell yeah I planned for it.  Spent most of October structuring the story.  Had a four main characters sketched out (werehyena’s need some careful crafting) as well as the villain.  I’m generally not a planner, more of a panster, (or that weird one about one malicious garden), but honestly I didn’t want to mess around.  I wanted to be able to get right into the story without needing to stop every minute and check something or have to cut a whole chapter because it wasn’t working.  (That might still happen, but not until after the first draft is down.)  I hammered out a rough outline, put in some spots for minor characters to shine (or at least glow a little). For a month I thought about writing a book, thought about the plot and the characters.  I psyched myself up, wanting to get tot know these new characters, wanting to see how their story plays out.

I found it helpful.

By November 1, I was eager to start, excited to get this all down and watch it unfold.

Okay, but is it part of the Legacy?

Yes.  But nowhere you’ve seen yet.  Aesc and I have pretty loose boundaries with where are stories are set and who rites what.  This specific tale is set on the far edge of the continent of Alrend’ris, the closest to Aesc’s part of the world I written about yet.  And so far, so good.  I’ve got to keep in mind that the people in this new city would trade and interact more with the people of t’Avallin.  It’s violent, a bit bloody, and dark.  But it’s a personal tale, and will hopefully get pretty emotional while swords and axes are swinging.

The story focuses on four heroines, bad-ass mercenaries called… well, I don’t want to give it all away.  Not yet.  Especially not since most of it (probably) is going to change.  So back to the word count for me, and if you’re taking on this challenge as well, good luck.


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