So You Want to Write a Book

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For some of you, November is a month of preparation for a giant dinner that may or may not be a disaster. But for writers, November is better known as National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo, as it's affectionately called, challenges writers to compose a 50,000-word novel in one month. It's not so much about producing the perfect novel as it is about just, well, producing.

Why do people put themselves through this? 

Because writing is hard. Really, really hard. Sometimes, you put your pen to the page (or fingers to the keyboard) and nothing happens. You tidy up the apartment a bit, or start that load of laundry you've been putting off. You go through your email and delete all your unsent saved drafts. You produce nothing, and you feel terrible.

NaNoWriMo offers constraints that make it much harder to evade your own creativity. There's a time limit. Your goal is 50,000 words. You don't get to make excuses because you signed up for this thing. You can't let your own fears of failure get the better of you because thousands of people are doing this with you. They're counting on you to stick to it, because they want to stick to it too.

We've seen writers come to Kickstarter with the same desire for constraints and community. Set a time limit and a funding goal. Make a promise to your backers. Hit the launch button. 

Creator Matt Forbeck wants to kick it up a notch by writing 12 novels in 12 months. That's one novel, per month, for an entire year. 600,000 words.

"I want you to dare me to do it," he says.

It's exactly this sort of challenge that will defeat the curse of "Someday I'm gonna write a novel." 110 backers are daring Matt to do it.

Part of why Kickstarter exists is because money cannot be the thing that stands in the way of creation. That is not a world we can afford to live in. When you remove all of the barriers to creation, the money, the self-doubt, that extant pile of laundry, all that remains is you and the novel you're about to write.

So what are you waiting for?
So what are you waiting for?
    1. John A. Walsh on

      Great post and an excellent way of summing up the endless possibilities of Kickstarter.
      Now...where did I leave that pile of laundry....

    2. John Bouchard on

      This is so true. I actually wrote my first novel, that I am launching soon on here, in a month. Then as I went back and read it myself, I noticed It was bland and not interesting at all. I am now finishing up the third re-write and I am getting alot of good feedback which is what I was hoping for. Therefore, to all the writers out there, have fun writing and do not give you.

    3. Zachary James Davis {Synaesthetic} on

      This is sweet! I would love to write 12 novels in a month! Anyone have any suggestions on how to advertise a project once it is already launched? I wrote a novel and am working on a second one. The first has been accepted by Tate Publishing, but I need to come up with money for a publicist. So I started a project and hope that I can raise the funds I need. If you have any suggestions on how to get people excited and draw more people in, I would greatly appreciate it! Also, if you wanted to check out the first chapter of the novel, I have it posted as a mediafire download on my kickstarter page :)

    4. Leigh Berggren on

      I did NaNoWriMo two years in a row, and neither year got above 8,000 words. Then, the next year, I didn't just meet the 50,000 word goal... I SMASHED it with 80,000 words! I had already written 60,000 words the previous month when I started the story, so in just two months I was amazed at the volume of material I'd written in just two months, and NaNo helped me get there. =D

      What was the difference between years 1-2 and year 3? I found a style of writing that works for me. Rather than trying to write a novel linearly, I instead wrote scenes as they came to me, which meant that I was skipping around all over my book. You don't need to wait to write a scene you're excited about, just write it! Don't worry about finishing the whole book in a month, you don't have to!

      The goal for NaNo is word count, not a final polished draft. So if you have trouble writing from start-to-finish, then write the "anchor" scenes you're excited about and are clear in your head, and fill in the rest as it comes to you. You can always edit what you've written *after* NaNoWriMo. Otherwise they would call it National Novel Editing Month. ;)

    5. PMorf52 on

      Ok, what happens if you do manage to write the 50,000 words?

    6. Mimi Cross on

      Great post! NaNoWriMo is really what led me to kickstarter!

      It was at the end of my first NaNo, three days before the end of the month, AFTER I'd written my 50,000 words, that I got my idea for a novel—that has turned into a trilogy! I really think NaNo is what cleared the pipes for me, and helped me get my 'real' story out.

      I'm doing NaNo again this year, NaNo #3. I'm dragging a little in my wc, but when I read a post like this, and think about something as wild as writing 12 novels in 12 months, I'm inspired. Thanks!

    7. Ruby L. Taylor on

      I really enjoyed this post!

    8. Bob Cameron on

      An exquisitely simple and powerful idea. So, you want to write a book? Then write a friggin' book already and stop the endless mental masturbation. Brilliant! Just for that, I'm going to finish the novella I've been fondling like a nervous school boy for most of this year. Thanks for the inspiration.

    9. Derrick Jones on

      This is a great post and the comments too. Very inspiring. What would you guys recommend as a good forum for writers?

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      BurlBarer on

      "Tate is a vanity press. They make their money selling books to desperate, naive, and gullible authors, not to readers. You can self-publish your book, for low cash out-of-pocket, elsewhere. But if you are intent on throwing your money away, I'm sure you can find some far less predatory, vanity press who will print your manuscript in book form for much, much less money." -- Lee Goldberg

      There is no sane reason on Earth to pay money to Tate. You may just as easily cash a check at the bank and flush the money down the toilet. Publishers PAY AUTHORS for the right to publish their books. Authors do NOT pay publishers. If you have a book, submit it to REAL PUBLISHERS. I suggest you check out Predators and Editors. Or you can self-publish it for NUTHIN' on Kindle, Nook or other e-book format. That doesn't mean any one will buy it, know about it, care about it, or anything else...but at least you won't have humiliated yourself by paying a vanity press.

    11. Virginia Echols-Harrison on

      That's a mean thing to say about self-publishers - that one has humiliated oneself by paying a vanity press. I think it is courageous of a person to self-publish if they have written something worthwhile and cannot immediately find a "real publisher", as you have stated. Not every "real publisher" can appreciate the oddity or uniqueness of some authors writing. You go Zachary; I hope your book takes off.

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      Peter Sowatskey on

      Mickey Spillane wrote his Mike Hammer novels in six weeks. I finished a sci/fi new novel in two months--100,000 words plus. It's doable. I publish on Kindle, five full length novels so far under Peter Sowatskey. Wherever you publish you need to become known. I'm 72 and have been writing with the Beaver Vallet Writers Guild for the last 11 years. We meet weekly and I've presented new material each week. I would have been better off had I taken the odd week to publicize myself and the even week to write. No writing results now, publicize. Peter

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      Namaku Keren on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

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      Doa Ibu Tersayang on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.