Wednesday, October 23, 2002

"Let's write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together."

You are an arteest, and no longer have time for things like cooking and grocery shopping and laundry. Start demanding favors and treats from friends and loved ones now. That way they'll be fully acclimated to the new you once November rolls around.

This alluring invitation is from the folks at National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to start writing a novel at 12:01 AM, November 1, and get 50,000 words done by midnight, November 30. You can research, plan, plot, outline, and agonize before November, but you can't *write*.

This is a great way to get a first draft done, especially if you're a perfectionist. You get emotional support from other writers (there are message boards and 3D meetings), plus the motivation of a solid drop-dead date. And you can reassure your family that you'll be back to normal by the end of November. Once you have a draft, of course, it's much easier to sculpt it into a finished work.

I signed up yesterday. I don't have time enough as it is, without adding thousands of words of writing every day, so it seems like a crazy idea. But it also is a good focus to get my work rolling. Also, given the recent changes in my schedule, I know *when* I can do the work: at 5AM, which is when I have to get up these days.

Also, I figure that for a month I can cut out everything extraneous. My life is going to be ruthlessly simplified to work, sleep, housework, and writing. Oh, and church. I've always gone into a state of house arrest at the end of a book anyway. It's the only way to do it. By the end of a book,all I want is to focus on the book. Just to write, just to disappear into the page. And I miss that. I miss working at the top of my form, fast and pure with no rewrites.

Can I write 50,000 words in 30 days? Easy. My first book, The Crystal Tree, was written in fifteen working days. Of course, I wasn't working at an outside job then, I'd been thinking about the ideas for years, and I had written a solid outline. It was one of the great experiences of my life — three weeks of ecstasy. (I took weekends off.)

Can I write all those words while working full-time, commuting a long way, and keeping up my end of the housework? That's a tougher question.

Wish me luck.

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