NaNoWriMo: The Challenge


Vision 69



The Challenge


Connie Cockrell

Copyright © 2012, Connie Cockrell, All Rights Reserved


It started as a challenge. I asked, "How hard is it to write 1666 words per day?"

She answered, "Well, if you think it's so easy, why don't you do it?"

That gave me two weeks to figure out how to write a novel, get an idea for a novel and plan out what the heck I was going to write!

The 'She' I'm referring to is my daughter, an aspiring writer. I am an aspiring writer too, for many years now but I just didn't know how to go about it. I'd tried writing before, and actually got a couple of thousand words into something pretty bad. It just didn't work out. Many years later, I tried again with a children's book. That one worked out pretty well but I didn't know what to do next. It's still in my computer file, under "Stories". I re-read it, as I was planning my NaNoWriMo offense - I still like it. I may try to actually do something with it in the future. But that's not the gist of my story today.

Today, I'm talking about, how a completely ignorant first time writer managed to complete a NaNo. It wasn't easy. It was a crash course. I had some help. My daughter, bless her heart for challenging me, provided my salvation, a book by Larry Brooks called Story Engineering, Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing.

I know, you're thinking this is a book review. Not so. I'm just a little OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) or so my daughter says; so I have to have some sort of plan, or blueprint or guide, if you will. Striking blindly out on my own, without a map is for people who have been crash-landed in unfamiliar territory unexpectedly. If I can, I plan! Larry Brooks book helped me complete that plan.

Not every plan works but for me, this one did. I sped-read through Larry's book, (do you think he'll mind my familiarity?), in four days, putting small sticky notes at the top of pages I figured I'd have to come back to. It wasn't my book, so no highlighting, marking or note-taking, not that I'd do so anyway, I'm a book lover, no writing in books!

Then, using his format for writing, I commandeered the back of the closet door in our spare room where the computer is. Of course, before any note could be written, I needed an idea. I stood in my spare room, staring at the back of the plain white closet door, a giant sheet of blank white paper, so to speak. What was I interested in? I'd heard that you should write what you know. My current interest is in food. Not just eating, but where it comes from, how it's raised or grown, and the mega-corporations that dominate our food chain. I felt like I had a story. Then I started writing scene ideas, phrases and what not on post-it notes and lining them up in vertical rows down my closet door .

I wrote notes about what I knew, what I speculated, where a certain plot line might take me. By the time NaNo started, I had enough ideas on the back of the closet door, in some sort of sequence, that I felt competent enough to begin writing on November 1st.

Writing every day is hard. There were days where I turned on the computer and found myself lost, where to start this next scene? How do I get to where I want to go from this point? I would find myself wandering around the house, doing mindless make work. I'd complain to my husband about my lack of story direction. He told me, "Get your butt in the chair and fingers on the keyboard." What a nice hubby! It all turned out. Some scenes are awful, some adequate but a few, I'm really proud of. Some scenes came out of nowhere; they weren't on the back of my closet door. Some of the ones that were on the back of the door were minor notes, not major scenes.

What an experience. I may have the bug for real now. Who knows, maybe sometime in the future, I'll see my name on the Amazon book list!


Referenced book:

Story Engineering Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing by Larry Brooks, ISBN-13:978-1-58297-998-4, ISBN-10:1-58297-998-7