I must admit I laughed a lot when I read this post by Amy Young. She, too, is a fellow writer with books published by Level Best Books. Enjoy!
When I began writing my second novel, a thriller, I had an idea, some notecards, and maybe most importantly for me, drive. I believe in the adage that everyone has one book in them, but not very many have two (I don’t know who said that. It wasn’t the Christopher Hitchens quote that everyone has a book in them and that’s where it should remain. I remember hearing the quote from Noah on The Affair, but I don’t think that character is where it originated. At least, I hope not. Noah was not a good dude). I wanted to prove that I wasn’t a one-book pony – much as my inner critic screamed that I was – and get another book finished. And fast.
So I decided to do NaNoWriMo. The problem was, it was February, and NaNoWriMo takes place in November. Armed with the knowledge that I would be on my own island, I embarked on my own personal NaNoWriMo during the month of March 2022. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but I set a writing goal for each day, locked myself in my office, and wrote. And you know what? I did it. By the end of that month, I had a first draft in hand. Mind you, it wasn’t good, LOL, and it was far shorter than I needed it to be, but the bones were there. And there are several things that I learned along the way.
- If you can, do NaNoWriMo in November. When you’re in the trenches with everyone else, there’s an incredible amount of support available that isn’t necessarily out there when you’re taking on the challenge by yourself.
- If you can’t do NaNoWriMo in November, don’t stress about it. Dig deep and find the determination you need to follow through on your mission. Tell a partner, friend, or relative about what you’re doing and have them hold you accountable (or try to).
- Get an outline together. I know, I know, pantsers are spontaneously combusting right now. My first book, I pantsed the first draft and it worked (ish). But having a rough outline – even though the outline was only a few words on each notecard that summarized a scene – gave me a starting point whenever I got stuck.
- Don’t worry about getting every single word right. That’s what the editing process is for. If you’re not feeling particularly brilliant that day, just get some words out on the page. You can revise them later.
- Find some “write-ins” to join. Sisters In Crime hosts frequent sessions where everyone logs into a Zoom meeting, chats for a bit, and then writes/edits/does whatever they need to do for about half an hour. At the end, you check in, share progress if you feel like it, and then go about your day. You may not be able to get all your writing done in one of those sessions, but having them on my calendar helped me know exactly when I would get at least some writing done.
- Tell your inner critic to take a hike while you’re writing. S/he/they/it can come back and bother you later. Right now, let yourself focus and don’t self-edit too much.
- Don’t sweat it if you miss your word count goal for the day. You’re trying to get a first draft done in one month. Is it ideal to miss your goal? No. Is it okay? Yes. Unless you’re up against a deadline or someone has kidnapped your pet and is making you write a certain amount every day, allow yourself some grace. No one is perfect every single day. Not even Nicolas Cage.
- Most importantly, have some fun! You don’t have to write, you get to write. If that kind of reframed thinking works for you (it works for me), use it. Writing is a privilege that not everyone gets to do, for one reason or another. Letting yourself enjoy the process is a) acceptable; b) preferable; and c) wonderfully freeing.
Josie Ashbury was a successful Hollywood actress with a booming career—until an on-set breakdown sends her back to her small Ohio hometown to recover. Taking a job teaching at her old high school, Josie is beginning to put the pieces of her life back together when one of her students dies under suspicious circumstances. The police close the case quickly, without any real answers. Josie is determined to find the truth behind the girl’s death.
At the same time, Josie is battling demons of her own. As she faces debilitating insomnia that leaves her with gaps in her memory, she dives into the tangled secrets surrounding the investigation. When she finally unravels the web, she discovers that the truth lies much closer to home than she could have ever imagined.
Buy link: https://books2read.com/TheWaterTower
You can find Amy and/or her book at these sites: