NaNoWriMo 2018 Underway!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I decided to participate in the 2018 edition of NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is a fun, goal-oriented, community approach to creative writing. Writers often gather together in coffee shops, meeting halls, and other spots to work on their individual works in progress. The goal is to write 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30. While people aren’t collaborating on each other’s work, they are supportive and encouraging of fellow participants. To write 50,000 words in 30 days means averaging nearly 1700 words per day. No small challenge, but doable. While a 50,000-word novel doesn’t sound like a big book, it’s worth noting F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic “The Great Gatsby” is about 50,000 words. Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five”, and Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” are under 50,000 words. A novel 50,000 words in length translates to an average of about 175 pages. Given the many things vying for our attention and our shorter attention spans, shorter novels may prove to be just the cure to Make America Read Again.

Novels About 50,000 Words in Length, More or Less

  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (46,333 words)
  • The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (52,000 words)
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (50,776 words)
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (50,061 words)
  • The Apostle Paul’s Epistles from the Bible (43,293 words. 50,190 if you count Hebrews.)
  • Lost Horizon by James Hilton
  • Shattered by Dean Koontz
  • Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
  • The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells
  • Gadsby: A Story of Over 50,000 Words Without Using the Letter “E” by Ernest Vincent Wright
  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (56,695 words)
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry (43,617 words)
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (46,591 words)
  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles (56,787 words)
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (46,118 words)

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I am happy to report that my first few days in this year’s “competition” have been fruitful and successful. I’m producing at a clip slightly higher than the necessary 1,667 words per day average, which is extremely encouraging. While I initially tried to plan out my novel, I’ve succumbed to writing it as I go. This actually seems more creative to me—like painting a picture from scratch, simply sitting down in front of the canvas and seeing where the brushes and colors take you. Sure, I have a basic plot in mind and at least a partial idea of how it all ends. In the days ahead, I look forward to seeing how my “word art” turns out.

I’m thankful for my bride, Sweet T, who has been so extremely supportive of this venture. I’m also grateful for a couple of my friends who I have dared to share my goal with over a cup of coffee or a good meal.

Happy Writing!

The Devotional Guy™

#NaNoWriMo #WGT 

 

 

Wednesday Writers Pad | NaNoWriMo 2018

After much contemplation, I’ve decided to participate in NaNoWriMo 2018. I’m excited about being one of the thousands (millions?) writing their novel in November. The goal is to crank out 50K words between November 1 and November 30. That averages out to 1,667 words a day. Of course, 50,000 words doesn’t exactly a novel make but it certainly is a healthy start. 

My primary impetus for taking part in NaNoWriMo this year is getting that novel idea out of my head and onto paper—well, in my case–on my laptop. 

October is known as #preptober, a time to get ready for the upcoming word joust next month. I’ve found some interesting YouTube videos on NaNoWriMo and PrepTober that discuss different aspects of this annual, internet-based, creative writing project. 

NaNoWriMo 2018 blog post

I know that October is the month to plan so that in November I can focus on hammering out a daunting 50,000 words. I’ve learned keeping a notebook is helpful, as is doing my research now rather than waiting until November. I’ve also discovered that it is helpful to plan writing time focused on my NaNoWriMo project ahead of time. Being organized seems to be something the Type-A organized folks recommend. Of course, pantsers disagree. 

Have you participated in NaNoWriMo in the past? What are some things you learned or helpful tips you’d like to share? 

Are you going to take part in NaNoWriMo this year?

I’d love to hear from you, so be sure and leave your comments in the comment section. 

I am still working on my nonfiction book focusing on prayer and worship. Hopefully, I will finish that by Spring 2019, as the Lord continues to teach me more about prayer and worship.

Happy Writing!

The Devotional Guy™

Wednesday Writers Pad: Are You a Competent Writer?

So, you’re a committed writer. But you’re struggling with your confidence and competence. Writing everyday will certainly help boost your confidence (some days) and build your competence (most days). I talk with aspiring writers all the time who lack confidence in their competence. They have a story to tell, but do not fill equipped to tell it. If you’ve ever tried your hand at writing, then you can relate. As I’ve said before, writing is hard work. Virtually everyone I meet has a book idea that they would like to get on paper. However, most of them never succeed in doing it.

First things first. You can’t get better at writing without sitting down and actually writing. You must put words on paper or else you won’t be able to sharpen your writing skills. It doesn’t matter if you scribble words on a paper pad, hammer sentences out on a typewriter, or key in paragraphs on a laptop.  You can compose stories in the morning, scrawl notes at lunch, and weave tales after dinner. Just sit down and write.

Maybe English wasn’t your strongest subject in high school. Read other writers to improve your writing. Take classes at the local community college to learn more about writing well. Join a writers group to gain insights into how to write more better stories. But write.

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Once you get a few chapters under your belt, find someone to read and critique your work. You can start with your Mom if you want but know she will either over-love it or strongly hate it. And you will either think your writing is better than it is or be a train wreck left with your confidence lagging in the caboose. You could have your spouse read it and tell you what they think. Just remember, you both must go to sleep sometime. And if things get to far out of hand, there might be police involved. I suggest finding someone more neutral, less invested in every outcome of your life but willing to hold you accountable when it comes to your writing. And…willing to take time to help you become a better writer. They do not need to know everything about writing. Just more than you do. You won’t have to take everything they say to heart, but you will have to be willing to listen and open to suggestions. Yes, it’s your baby. No, somebody telling you that your baby is ugly or smells bad ain’t pretty. But truthfulness and honesty are what you need to get better. Anybody can read your stuff and sugarcoat their impression of what you wrote. Nobody wants to hurt your feelings. In addition to being arduous work, writing can be excruciatingly painful while being inexplicably wonderful. If we’re going to become better writers, we need honest feedback from fellow writers.

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Another step I recommend taking to become a more competent writer is joining a local writers group. Local writers groups will offer informational and educational meetings featuring speakers who are experts in the field of writing. Writers groups will also host workshops and connect you with other writers. Like most anything in life, having a network of like-minded friends will help boost your writing career. Writers groups will often host a critique group in addition to their monthly writers meetings. Personally, I know that joining our local Writers Guild of Texas (of which I’m a current Board member) has been instrumental in helping me get back into writing and creating content. In the last 3+ years I have learned a ton that has proved invaluable to me as a writer. And best of all—I’ve met a slew of great people who share my passion for writing.

To become more competent and grow confidence in your writing enroll in a writing class. Many community colleges offer writing course through their Continuing Ed programs. The classes are usually affordable and vary in length from a couple of hours on Saturday morning to a few days spread over 4-6 weeks. Classes, like the ones offered by Writing Workshops Dallas, focus on specific things like starting your novel, character or plot development, and marketing you finished book, along with a slew of other courses designed to make you a more competent and more confident writer.

In addition to enrolling in a few classes, look for writing contests that you can enter. Contests will help you focus on a central idea and teach you how to meet a deadline. Both are very crucial elements of getting serious about your writing.

Last but not least, I’d recommend attending a writer’s conference. Back when it was still active, I had the opportunity to attend the East Texas Christian Writers Conference in Marshall, Texas. I met a lot of good people and grew my network of writers, agents, and editors. The same is true of the Mayborn, a nonfiction writers conference that features along with a contest.  Writers conferences, like the annual WORDfest, allow you to immerse yourself in your craft for a day or even a few consecutive days. You’ll grow your network—you might even land an agent. No doubt, you’ll get better at writing.

These are just a few ideas that will help you become a more competent writer. Hopefully, they will prove useful to you. In the meantime…

Keep writing!