It all started two years ago when I decided that just living a nice life was too wasteful and started a year of impossible challenges.
It was a year with 12 different challenges. And the last one was in November 2014 NaNoWriMo writing challenge. A 50,000 word story in one month. Or one small novel.
To make it more impressive, let me use a trader's trick and divide this number by days and hours:
If you're not lazy, that's 1,667 words per day, or 1.7 words per minute, with eight hours of sleep.
...Yeah. Quite a lot.
Why did I decide to try my hand at writing a novel in such a short time?
The idea for this challenge, like other impossible challenges, came at the very last moment. Yes, it was such a spontaneous year.
After finding out on the penultimate day of September that my October test will be get to know 100 people in the Czech Republic, I immediately knew what I would do in November.
Since October is the month of communication... I can end this year with a calmer activity that is more usual for me and, for the sake of my writing career, more purposeful. For example, I can write my first book.
Because that's who I am - a bit of a shut-in, who likes the quiet of the house and, when I'm lucky, adores the tapping of the keyboard. So why not?
True, I immediately planned additional entertainment for November. Since I'm going to write like this, then... Why don't you try to push away all the people who want to communicate with me?
So how did I manage to write a novel?
I will tell you soon what came out of my challenge. But first, I'll retrace my journey so you know how it all went.
Before the challenge...
Since I came up with the goal at the beginning of October, a month before I started writing, I started slowly preparing for the test. It wasn't something very new - I tried earlier in the year...
...I started writing every day.
No romance, no - the rules forbid it. However: letters to the girl I was in love with, thoughts for myself, some secret articles for friends and similar experiments. I didn't show those texts to almost anyone.
This little preparation for the challenge only required me to write at least 50, 100, 200, 400, or 600 words each day, increasing each time if I managed to write my goal for four days in a row. 2
And yes, even the highest threshold in the last week of October, 600 words, is less than the 1,667 words I had to write during the actual November. But it was a practice to get used to writing to prepare for the actual creation of the novel.
One week until November...
About a week ago, I started what follows the rules of NaNoWriMo 3 I could spend all of October. I started thinking...
...And what, under the thunderstorms, do I even want to write?
It's a good question when you're going to put together a 50,000 word story and you don't have thirteen years to do it.
My inner dialogue was:
Well, or something like that. 4 I don't really remember what I was thinking then, but here's what I'm thinking now:
...What the hell was I thinking then???
Seriously. Starting an affair without any plan? Without even knowing who my main characters will be or what the setting will be? ...Am I a jerk? Did I fall harder than I thought from that apple tree? 5
Yes, it turns out I was such a jerk. While not planning seemed like a genius idea, along the way I saw HUGE flaws in this approach.
I came up with the heroine of my novel in the last hours of October, about seven hours before writing. I also decided that the action will take place in Kaunas, Šilainiai. The other had to be thought of on the fly.
And then suddenly November came!
...Which repeats for 30 days according to the following routine:
- I wake up.
- I remember that I have to write a 1667 word sequel to the story today. I mentally (or out loud) groan and curse.
- All day I study, I read nothing on the Internet, I design the Cloud that you see now, 6 and otherwise I procrastinate writing.
- Around one o'clock in the morning, I realize that I can't put it off any longer.
- I sigh and go down to the first floor of the Erasmus student barracks, and after breaking through the Spaniards who never sleep, I buy cocoa from the coffee machine.
- I'm starting to write part of the day. I don't go to bed until I finish.
- Around 3-5 am (or morning?) I fall into bed. I sleep until ten or eleven o'clock.
Some days I write in the library until eleven o'clock at night, when it closes. But there was nothing more to this challenge. I just tried to write the necessary volume of the story every day.
"So did you manage to finish your novel?" Did it work?” – You might be asking at this moment
...Yes, I guessed!
And I'm proud of myself.
Yes, it was difficult. Enduring the noise of the roommate's 3D printer and tragic coffee in the library every day, creating the day's scenario while sitting in construction engineering lectures... It's tiring.
But I did it. Maybe out of blind stubbornness.
"And will you show her?" Have you published your book yet?'
Eh... And that's not such a nice question. No, I won't show it. And no, I'm not going to release it, make it public or otherwise show it off.
Because my novel was terrible. For one fat reason: one learns to write novels only by writing them. And the first experiment is unlikely to be successful, at least for any author.
Lithuanian writers often talk about such experiences!
On this occasion, I recommend:
What did I learn in a month with NaNoWriMo and what advice can I give you?
Here is what came to my attention: 7
First: You only learn to write novels by writing novels.
You'd think - hey, since I write this blog and its articles, I have been writing every day for a month and I like to read a lot of books - it really should be easy. That's what I thought at first. But I was wrong.
Writing a long story is very different from writing an article that answers a few interesting questions.
This is quite different from writing on a Facebook wall. It is different than telling a friend a funny and interesting story.
Second: ...And this is very good news for you.
Because if you want to write your own novel, you don't need special skills. You don't need to take courses, read books, or perform magical writers' rituals with whiskey and smokes. 8
You just have to start and see what happens. Knowledge comes from trying. Guaranteed to get something. Maybe not the best novel in the world, as I failed to write a really interesting piece, but it will be a novel.
And how many grandparents can tell their grandchildren that they once wrote a book? Whatever it is?
Third: Good ideas come from walking and eating kebabs.
This should be the slogan of some kebab shop: "Lack of ideas?" Have a bite of kebab!". 9 I experienced this during night walks in the Czech Republic to the kebab shop and back.
If you lack ideas - get distracted.
Watch some anime, go to the theater, learn how to fold an origami crane, or go get some socks. It doesn't matter. It is important not to beat yourself up if there are no ideas - let the ideas come by themselves. It worked for me, so I'm sure it can work for you too.
Fourth: If you miss a day, don't stop and keep going.
It happens. Happened to me too. But missing a day or missing five thousand words a week before the end of the challenge doesn't mean you've lost.
You can write a book in a week. You'll probably have to sleep less.
It is possible to write a book. And a few days missed due to illness, a relative's wedding or any other distraction is not the end of the adventure. continue
In fact, 50 thousand words is not even a lot - the average full novel is about 100 thousand words, and thick novels (like Dostoyevsky's bibles) can reach 300 thousand words each. 10
Fifth: Want to write fast? Don't look at the text.
Reduce the best type of text to such a size that you can no longer see what you are writing on the screen. That way, you won't be tempted to correct and keep interrupting yourself. I set my text to 4 pt size. Almost invisible.
Because do you really want to extend your daily hour-long writing to five hours, because every few words you need to correct something?
If you write on paper, 11 you can also write quickly, close the written pages and put them in the closet or... Just write on smaller pieces of paper - it won't be on your eyes, you won't want to correct an unfinished work.
It's a pity that I can no longer find this Lithuanian novelist and writing coach Sandra Bernotaitė interview, but she told how she considers her books strictly "sketches" during the writing process. She first writes out the entire book and only then thinks about whether she wants to correct, cut or add something. Because you can edit only when you see the complete work.
Sixth: Have a plan. Because a book without a plan is without connection.
Even though I wrote 51.2 thousand words... They didn't have much in common. Yes, it was one story - it had a beginning, middle and end... But I don't know what to keep from it. What the story says.
And that was a mistake I made.
What happened at the beginning became irrelevant at the end. And what happened at the end was strangely unrelated to the beginning. And my plot, which was not very much, 12 finally got out after the first few days.
Try to have a plan. It is not necessary to write everything down to the letter, at least a short outline is enough. Ideas. Areas. A unifying feeling.
The plan is the skeleton of the work.
You can write a book too!
There is plenty in Lithuania authors writing books. And NaNoWriMo doesn't ask you to publish your book or show it to anyone. Don't even ask me to write a good book at all!
All you have to do is join the NaNoWriMo challenge this November and try to write. If you don't try, you don't know what you will get.
- This November. But if you want, you can start at any time of the year.
- Official Rules on the NaNoWriMo page.
- But the point is: 50 thousand words of fiction in 30 days.
- Join the Lithuanian NaNoWriMiečių group on Facebook!
- Or join amateur writers club, where we talk about writing all year long. Well, except as we write.
- If you need an ass-kicking, write me personally and I will help 😉
- No coercion here! Just a fun challenge! ✍️
If you have any questions, tips for writers, or want to join us, just leave a comment below!
Although they weren't really that strict during the challenge - they were almost non-existent...↩
You can already sense how the dialogues looked at the beginning of my first attempt at writing a novel.↩
Apples, which I told you about here: "Unexpected Changes in Life, or the Story of the Origin of the Cloud".↩
Yes, this sentence is specifically so wooden. I can play the poet, can't I?↩
Although it is true, it is possible that nicotine helps to focus and activate the brain. There are indications that smoking is not good, but nicotine itself (one of the components of smokers) helps. Of course, do your research before you start smoking.↩
So, I'm already waiting for your offer.↩
Of course, it depends on the language in which they were written. It is easier to memorize more words in English than in Lithuanian. But the difference is not very significant.↩
And that's not a bad thing, some NaNoWriMo participants write the entire novel this way; choose the most convenient method for you.↩
It was basically a story about a girl who is looking for her missing parents. On the way, he gets into a car accident, meets a doctor, something happens, he seems to find his parents. Or not. The end.↩