I'm Abe Wolfgang, an Electrical Engineer, writer, Father, husband, and full-time lover of story. I blog about those stories, how they impact us as humans, and why they are important. Occasionally I write my own as well.

My NaNoWriMo Novel

I think that the time has come for me to read my novel. I wrote it during NaNoWriMo (That stands for National Novel Writing Month) last year. Basically what happened was I wrote a 50,000 word story in 30 days. A little crazy, yes, but I now have a full novel in draft form. So, after letting it breathe for a few months I finally feel like I can give it a good, honest read over. Before you ask, the only person other than me that is allowed to see the draft is my wife, and she has already read it. If I think it is worthy of pursuing, I will revise, edit, and revise until I think it is ready for others to read. You may be wondering why I have not been employing this tactic with my serialized story. In that case, I am trusting you, as the reader, to give me a little leeway on my minimal editing and possible (and indeed likely) plot-holes. That being said, I still think it will end up being a pretty cool story if you can stick with me as I slog through it.

As I prepare to look over this beastly draft, I can reflect a bit on what I learned through the process. I can distill it down into a few points:

  1. Anyone can write a novel
  2. Setting an aggressive deadline for a goal can lead to success
  3. Being busy fosters creativity
  4. We all need to be able to write really terrible first drafts

Novels

Anyone can write them. It's really not that difficult. If you have a semi-active imagination, or can draw from any past experiences, you can write a novel. Technically, 50,000 words constitutes a novel, and all you have to do is break that into smaller chunks that you can handle on a daily basis. Let me help:

  • 1,667 words per day is a novel in a month
  • 556 words per day is a novel in three months
  • 136 words per day is a novel in a year

Want to have a rough draft of a novel written a year from now? 136 words per day. That's all. Now, I would suggest you aim a bit higher, but this just serves to illustrate that it is possible for you to reach that goal.

Aggressive Goals

I've heard it said that a goal is a dream with a deadline. I think that deadline is important, and it is often the only reason that dream becomes reality. Would I have a rough draft of a novel today if I had not furiously pursued writing it? Probably not. When you put yourself under pressure to complete something in a seemingly short amount of time, you begin to weed out a lot of the distractions that can pull you away from your goal. Survivor is on? Nope, I'll have to watch it next month when my story is done.

Busy, busy, busy

I honestly believe that the ridiculous goal of writing a novel in one month is what spurred me on. I didn't have time to go back and edit. I couldn't think about what I was writing, I just had to write. I let the words spill out on the page. I was merely the conduit for the storyteller inside of me. I am convinced that this method of just putting words to paper lets your ideas flow free, for good and bad. After all, you need a few bad ideas in order to find the truly good ones.

Terrible first drafts

This goes beyond writing. This is bonafide life-applicable. As a people, we place way too much stock in competence. I am guilty of this as well, but I started to learn a lot about how to combat it, and how detrimental it can be. If you always wait until you are good at something before you start doing it, you will never get there. Think about that. At some point, you need to start, and you really have to work at not comparing your work/talent/ability to anyone else. Sure, you are a complete novice and might even embarrass yourself, but maybe that is a good thing. Maybe a little healthy humility will spur you on to the greatness that is in store for you.

This is what I was able to glean from the experience of writing my first novel. Hopefully it will encourage you to start working on a dream of yours. A dream that you may have been putting off until you are just a little bit more knowledgeable.

The 80/20 Principle

James Straver - Part Two