Tuesday, November 25, 2014


by Susan

Here's the to the brave and hardy souls who are nearing the end of National Novel Writing Month (affectionately known as NaNoWriMo) challenge: write a 50,000-word novel, start to finish, during the month of November. 

Whether you're sailing through it with words to spare, coming down to the wire or panicking over your word counts, my hat's off to you.

Me? Didn't do it. I'd say couldn't do it, but "could" is more a matter of priorities. I'm afraid meals, sleep, clean laundry and hubby time took precedence this month.

Writing may not be my only priority, it is still a priority. It has to be. Right now, I am plugging away at my embryonic novel while others are finishing theirs. Although "embryonic" implies structure and order in how it's coming to be. Mine seems to pop into my head in assorted scenes and snippets of dialogue that I write down and hope to hang on a plot structure.

It's more like a mosaic than an embryo: I'm assembling, sorting and planning the pieces before I prep the wall and lay down the coat of adhesive. 

There are a lot of different styles for writing a novel. There are the careful outliners vs. those who prefer to fly by the seat of their pants. The ones who won't talk about what they're writing vs. the ones who corral their friends to brainstorm ideas. There are those who make each sentence perfect before moving on, as opposed to those who, to quote W. Michael Gear, use the "vomit and mop" method.

There are those who barrel through start to finish, unlike what I seem to be doing. Surely, I can't be the only one out there that works this way.

But you know what? It doesn't matter what your writing style is. It doesn't matter, because there is no wrong way to be a writer. Repeat: There is no wrong way to be a writer. There is no wrong way to put your heart on the page. The only wrong way to be a writer is to not write.

So I'll keep choosing and assembling my tiles and deciding where they go. I hope someday to make something beautiful of it.

What is your writing style? Please share with us in the comments!


  1. I am writing my first novel and I've discovered that I need a good outline. I started out just writing with a vague idea of where to go. I've learned that I need a map so when I go off road I can get back on track. I had thought that an outline would hinder my creativity but actually it's just the opposite. Go figure.

    1. Sometimes having that scaffolding opens things up. It's why trying to write in a specific poetic form can sometimes enhance creativity.

      I'm beginning to think I may need an outline. It involved a road trip, so I've literally had a (road) map in hand as I've been doing this, although that doesn't take the place of an outline!

  2. I too am working on an embryonic novel. I've given myself a goal, not 50,000 words by the end of this month, but 500 words/day. Even if I write my usual 1,000+ words one day I still have to do my 500 the next. So far it is working fine. I am focused on moving the story forward and keeping my standards very low. It's first draft work after all, and there will be plenty of time to revise and complete. My last novel took 14 years from concept to publication so hey, no rush!

    1. I found it really encouraging when I started figuring up how long it would take me at 500 words a day, or even 250. Chipping away gets us there. As they say, you eat an elephant one bite at a time. :)

  3. My writing style could be described as "Too lazy to write anything longer than a poem." I admire all of you novel writers! If I tried it, it would most likely have to be broken down into poem-sized pieces (roughly a paragraph a day) and be finished only if and when the human lifespan is doubled. More like NaNoWriCen (Cen being century).

    1. What if I challenge you to a NaNoWriDec(ade)? That seems to be about the schedule I'm on.

      If it makes you feel any better -- I've seen Craig Johnson talk about interviewing the local sheriff for background for his novel. Seven years later, still no novel, he ran into the same sheriff at a gas station who said something to the effect of, "Don't you think you oughta be getting around to it by now?"

    2. And there is NOTHING lazy about writing a poem! Or in poem-sized pieces. It's ALL writing!


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