Michelle is a Wrimo of great, terrifying, admirable ambition. Writing 50,000 words in a month is a feat, doing it every month for a year is the stuff of legend. With nearly ten novels under her belt so far, she tells us what she’s learned about what makes for an enjoyable creative journey:
I began this year with a simple, terrifying goal: to write one novel every month for the whole of 2012. I wanted the rush of NaNoWriMo full time, to study what it is to write and keep writing. I wanted to dive into my own stories and not come up for air until 2013.
And, so far, I’ve done it. When NaNoWriMo starts, I will have written ten novels this year for a total of 500,000 words—and I won’t stop there. I have learned so much about writing, about starting, ending, and continuing through all odds. And while all novels are different, here are some lessons I’ve used to get me to the “The End” these past ten times:
- Find a story that excites you. A good beginning can mean everything for the month ahead. While all novels can be finished, the story that gets your heart pounding and your brain whirring will carry you through. Hold out as long as you can for that feeling of anticipation, when the idea is just too good to let go of. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it makes you want to write.
- Choose your traveling companion wisely. Your main character will be your primary social interaction for the rest of November. If they aren’t likable, I guarantee you will want to gouge out their eyes within 10,000 words. A good main character will get you through the hard parts; when the story is gone and all seems lost, they will be your salvation. Choose them with care.
- Find a touchstone. Find something that connects you to the first rush of inspiration—a song, picture, memory, anything. When your plot drifts far out to sea, your touchstone is the north star. Use it to keep writing, to remind you of why you began, and to find your way back to shore.
- Expect resistance. There will be times when all the tricks don’t work; when the writing prompts feel silly and your characters have left the scene. The hour is desperate, your hands might as well be nailed to the desk, and you want so very badly to give up. This is Resistance, the constant companion to any creative endeavor, and he only comes out when we are about to do something wonderful. Tell him “hi,” then dig in and keep writing—things are about to get good.
- Above all, write for yourself. This novel is for you, it belongs to no one else. Write what you want, write when you want, write however you need. Writing rules are made by other people; break them, kill them, make a mess of finger paint and confetti on the walls of your imagination. This is supposed to be hard, messy, and sometimes life-altering, but make sure you love it. Because its yours.
You are ready, even if you don’t know it. This is your time, your chance, your story. Write it.
Michelle Tuckett is a practicing word ninja living in her hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah. Her obsession with otherworldly things began at birth, when she was named after a random gravestone. She spends her time believing impossible things and chronicling her insights and tribulations from writing a novel every month for a year at 12novels.com.
Photo at top by Flickr user San Diego Shooter.