Guest Post: How to Write a Novel Without Even Realizing It
I wrote a post a couple weeks ago in which I trumpeted the value of writing for even a few minutes every day–and Amanda commented on her success in following that prescription. I was emailing her to write a guest post before I even finished reading her comment! And here it is, and I find it very inspiring. Amanda has appeared on these pages before–you can read the interview I did with her last year here. Scroll down and read more about her wonderful novels!
Write before you wake up…or, how I got so far into my next novel without even realizing I was writing it.
Recently, Charlotte wrote a post about writing every day. In it, she said, “So, how important is it to write every day?
Well, I think its every thing. Every damn thing. I do. I believe that writing every day is what we should all strive for. … And that is what it really boils down to. Whether or not you actually want to write.”
I’ve read similar articles before. I’ve heard similar advice. I usually reply with “but…but…but…”
I want to write every day, but I have 2 kids.
I want to write every day, but I have two other jobs.
I want to write every day, but I volunteer.
I want to write every day, but it’s the weekend.
I want to write every day, but the last season of Mad Men is finally on Netflix.
A week before Charlotte’s article I watched a webinar with the founder of The Organized Artist Company, Samantha Bennett (she’s also a former SNL writer!) and she gave a lot of similar advice. Just. Do. It.
That week, with my husband away at a conference and my children running around like the banshees they are, and my first week in a brand new job at a company, where everyone was away for the same conference my husband was at, I thought I was losing my mind. I hadn’t been writing in my journal, much less working on any creative writing. I was in the place in between projects where it’s easy to get stagnant: waiting for feedback on one manuscript but not sure how to start the next. Sam said that all creative work can be accomplished in 15 minutes a day, as long as you’re consistent with it. In the morning, before you check your email, before you turn the TV on, before you see Facebook or any part of the internet…15 minutes. Before your brain has time to think.
This is the same concept that Julia Cameron uses for working on Artists Pages right away in the morning— you’re not awake enough to self-sensor. First-thing Artists Pages don't work for me, because I’m not engaged enough with it and fall back to sleep. But, with two days left until my hubby got home, I decided to give actual writing a shot. 15 minutes, immediately, before I did anything else. Which meant I had to write long hand, because if I’m near my computer I must check email and Facebook, just as I must breathe.
I woke up, stumbled down the stairs, told my son to go back to bed, it was too early to be up (when he asked why I was up I said I was writing. In our house, this is code for leave me alone. I’ve trained them well.) and I started to write.
I did it again the next day.
And the next.
After about a week, started waking up before my alarm, knowing what I was going to write. I had my first book dream, in which I was one of the characters.
It’s been a little over a month now, I haven’t been perfect, but I’ve done it almost every day since. I have a full notebook of handwritten scenes. As I’ve re-read them, I’m kind of amazed. They’re a lot better than most of my first draft stuff. More direct. Less tangents. I have to wonder if it’s because I was more focused while I was writing. This isn’t the fastest I’ve written, but it feels different. More complete in some way. And I’m in a MUCH better mood each day for getting the words on the page, first thing.
It’s not hard to get up 15 minutes earlier. If you’re not a morning person, (I’m totally not one) it will feel hard, I know, but just tell yourself it isn’t. You can program your coffee pot so it’s ready when you get to the kitchen, pour your cup, and go. Or sleep with your notebook or computer next to your bed, so you don’t even have to get up to get writing. It’s just 15 minutes. You can totally do it.
Amanda Michelle Moon writes novels inspired by real events. Her first two novels, The Thief and The Damage, tell the true-life unsolved mystery of a pair of Wizard of Oz worn ruby slippers from the perspective first of a fictional criminal, and then of the people affected by the theft. In May she is launching her first audiobook! Both books can be found at www.stealingtherubyslippers.com. When she’s not writing, she lives with her family in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and works for NoiseTrade Books. Connect with her at www.amandamichellemoon.com.
Alarm clock photo from alan_cleaver2000. Author photo from Amanda!
What do you think? Can you find 15 minutes in your day to write? Can you rise a little early?