Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Writing necessities

Georgia isn't exactly freezing in November, but I've spent some chilly, gray autumn days writing what has become an epic account of a young girl's quest to become the leader of what used to be a peaceful valley but is now preparing for war. She's traveled through time, seen people die for her cause, met and fought the devil (she left him with a bad limp, and that's saying something), translated and read the entire book of the valley's secrets, and just yesterday, had her first kiss.

For me, writing so many adventures in so little time requires one thing: a deadline. But lots of other smaller things have encouraged me along the way. Here's my recipe for a successful National Novel Writing Month (or any other writing month), should you ever take on the challenge of quickly writing a story.

Ingredients for Writing a Delicious First Draft Novel in Just 30 Days:

1 (at least) fellow writer to email and chat with for encouragement

1 cozy blanket, preferably with a history (this quilt made by my great-aunt in a cabin in the Christmas tree mountains of North Carolina works perfectly)

5 minutes per day staring into the nothingness that is the mystery of the universe (my nothingness spot is the fireplace, but feel free to look at the ceiling or a closed door or your big toe or whatever works for you)

1 large bucket of willingness to ignore everyone and everything in order to get caught up after you find yourself 5000 or so words behind target

30 minutes per day (at least) in the kitchen (because you must get out of your head and do something on your feet that requires all five physical senses)

2 friendly cats (for keeping your feet warm)

1 hot shower a day followed by 1 cushy bathrobe (these two together have magical properties on any difficult day)

1 open mindset for adventurous writing like you'd never normally attempt (the speed of the thing makes you write strangely, but don't stop; enjoy ignored inhibitions)

1 large container of gingerbread biscotti and a jug of almond milk (for dipping)

1 or more conversations per day with a family member (nothing grounds you like family)

1 nap per day (unless naps make you grumpy)

1 (at least) critical thing that needs doing much more urgently than your novel needs writing (such as preparing for a lecture, traveling for a holiday, or cleaning your house before your sweet mother-in-law comes for a visit)


1. Mix everything together in one big bowl
2. Enjoy!


"We have to learn to appreciate what astonishingly hard work it is to produce a book . . . They have gone through the problems of throwing away the first chapter seventeen times, starting again and starting again, and they have labored through it. Even if the work is not great, they deserve applause for that. Anybody who can do that has started off." ~ Stephen Fry