NaNoWriMo is Done

by Jeff Abbott on December 1, 2008

As of yesterday, National Novel Writing Month is now done (a program where people try to write a 50,000 word novel in a month). I have not participated in this, but I did participate in a panel discussion at Writers’ League of Texas earlier this month with novelists Margo Rabb and Doug Dorst. Some of the topics and questions that came up at the talk:
Tenacity matters. If you don’t finish or sell one book, start another one.
Not everyone who wants an agent will get an agent. If one book isn’t getting the attention of agents, learn what you can as to where the writing is falling short and start another one. Also realize that an agent who’s perfect for one writer may not be perfect for you.
It doesn’t matter if you outline or not: use what works for you. There is no one right way to start writing.
Drinking or medication before facing a vicious critique group is permissible. (This applies to MFA programs, not a critique group you could ditch easily if it was filled with psychopaths.)
I tend to try to block out set times in the day to write; others don’t. But all agreed that steady production is key. Don’t beat yourself up if you get distracted by laundry or life or what have you; just get back to work. It is okay to stare at the screen and think for a couple of hours. (We shared what works for us, but again, each writer has to find their own rhythm when it comes to writing.)
Doug and Margo have spent years writing a single novel. It’s not really an option when you’re writing commercial fiction; I need to produce a book a year. Certainly once you get published, the pressure to produce more quickly increases, regardless of what kind of novel you write.
When we were asked for our best advice, mine was: never give up. Just keep at it. But if you decide that writing isn’t for you–and some people will realize this–then it’s okay to walk away and find another activity you will feel more passionate about.

    { 2 comments… read them below or add one }

    Ann Victor December 6, 2008 at 5:43 am

    Good tips! Will be sharing this link with my on-line crit group (so they get the hint about the drinks/medication before crits!) :)

    Kristan December 8, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    I know I won’t be giving up on writing anytime soon, but I found this post quite… encouraging.
    “Don’t beat yourself up if you get distracted by laundry or life or what have you; just get back to work. It is okay to stare at the screen and think for a couple of hours. (We shared what works for us, but again, each writer has to find their own rhythm when it comes to writing.)”
    Love that. Needed to hear it.

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