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July 24, 2013

Jeanette Battista: Writing a Novel in a Month or How to Go Crazy in 30 Days

I decided to attempt my first NaNoWriMo in November of 2012. For those of you reading who are unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month and it challenges participants to write 50,000 words in 30 days. November is the traditional month it runs, but there are lots of other instances: JuNoWriMo, Camps, etc. I thought it would be a good idea to challenge myself and see if I could accomplish it. If nothing else, I would have a workable first draft out of it.
One of the key things to doing NaNo successfully is turning off your internal editor. We all have one, some worse than others. My friend and writing partner tends to rewrite a chapter she’s working on at least five times--essentially writing 2000 words over and over again--before finally getting on with it. Her internal editor is a beast. It’s that little (or not so little) voice that constantly tells you what you have just written is crap. That you can do it better, that you suck, that you should pack it all in and stop writing before you embarrass yourself. It’s the voice that stops you before you even get started.
NaNoWriMo tells you to actively ignore this voice. Actually, it urges you to lock it in a box, bury it at a crossroads, and sow the ground with salt. Because in order to get your word count in (about 1600 words a day), you need to write.
Even if it’s crap.
And that’s why I think everyone who really wants to be a writer should try writing a novel in a month. I’ve done it twice now, and while it was painful--especially the second time around when I did it this June--it was incredibly freeing. I’ve throttled my internal editor into a mostly comatose state, but it can still rear up and smite me when I’m least expecting it. But I’ve learned to tell it to go hang and just focus on getting words on the page. Maybe not the best words, maybe not even good words, but at least words that relate to a story I’m trying to tell.

Buy Long Black Veil at Amazon

The important thing is to get those words out. You can’t edit a blank page. Write. Even if they are the worst 2000 words in the history of the written word, write. Even if you end up throwing them away in the final product, write. The point of revising a story and editing a story is to fix the problems in what you wrote. Nothing comes out perfect, well, EVER. Once you understand and really accept that, writing becomes a whole lot easier. First drafts are first drafts for a reason.
At the end of my first NaNoWriMo, I had a the groundwork for a book I loved. I spent time revising and polishing it, and I sent it out to my critique partners who told me where it didn’t work or it lagged or where it just needed tweaking. I fixed these and sent it to them again. Lather, rinse, repeat. When I thought I had it as good as I could make it, I sent it to my agent. Who loved it and is shopping it now.
Does this mean it will get snapped up? No. But if I hadn’t done NaNoWriMo, I wouldn’t have this book to shop at all. So muzzle that voice that’s stopping you and WRITE.

About the Author:
Jeanette Battista graduated with an English degree with a concentration in medieval literature which explains her possibly unhealthy fixation on edged weapons and cathedral architecture. She spent a summer in England and Scotland studying the historical King Arthur, which did nothing to curb her obsession.When she’s not writing or working, Jeanette spends time with family, hikes, reads, makes decadent brownies, buys killer boots, and plays Pocket Frogs. She wishes there were more hours in the day so she could actually do more of these things. She lives with her daughter and their two psychotic kittens in North Carolina. She has won the 2013 IndieReader Discovery Award for Best Young Adult for Long Black Veil, and a 2013 Bronze Independent Publisher (IPPY) Award for Best YA Ebook for Long Black Veil. She's the author of the Moon Series, the Discreet Demolition series, and The Iron Bells, the first book in a New Adult dark fantasy series.
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