National Just Write Something Month

National Just Write Something Month

120px-Girl_with_stylus_and_tablets.Fresco_found_in_PompeiI hope you’ll forgive me for stepping off topic this week. We’ll return to Gilgamesh soon, but today, I wanted to talk to you about something different.

Writing. The process, not the product, which is what I usually blog about here at Black Gate. I’m surrounded by true professionals and artists here, so it feels like hubris to presume upon the subject. But as that has rarely stopped me before, I shall forge ahead.

Many of you reading this have heard of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. For those who haven’t, the idea is that if you write 1,666 words a day for every day of November, you’ll end up with fifty thousand words, or, in some genres, a novel. The idea is that everybody does it in one giant nationwide frenzy, cheering each other on, swapping tips, hosting write-a-thons in which people chug coffee and type like the wind. Winning means getting fifty thousand words. They don’t have to be great. They don’t have to be good. They just have to be on the page.

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month
Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

It’s a gimmick, but it’s a good one. People have gotten NaNo novels published. In short, it works, at least for some people. But it’s not for all of us.

We all have our own challenges. Mine is two children, five and two, chronic illness, and a household to run. Some people work full time at jobs that are physically or intellectually challenging. Some people just haven’t worked up to that level of creative output. Some writers can crank out two-thousand words before breakfast. Some would collapse over the finish line after 12 hours. We all have different situations and different approaches to the craft. So for those of us who write, but can’t swing NaNoWriMo, I’m proposing another option.

Cheer on those doing NaNo. Wish them the best, offer whatever support you can.Then set aside the numbers, sit down at your desk, and just write.

Write every day. One poem. Work on the novel if you’ve got one in mind or underway. Come up with 30 pieces of flash fiction that you’ll edit up in December. Just write. Write the backstory for a main character that will never actually be published but that will flesh her out when you write her into your novel. Write your own manifesto on what you’re tired of seeing in Fantasy and Sci-Fi. Write five impossible things before breakfast.

Just write.

NaNo is about stretching and discipline and getting the words down. This is just about getting started. Taking that first step (the hard one) and then taking the second (the harder one). This is about making a commitment to yourself as an artist and following through for thirty days. It’s about getting into the habit of sitting down, each and every day, and writing. And if you’re anything like me, it is about making the commitment to yourself to make the time, to carve it out somehow.

Two-hundred words a day for thirty days is six-thousand words. It’s not a novel. But if you’re fighting to work at all, it is probably six-thousand words more than you got in October.

Next week: The First Monster, and Gilgamesh’s nemesis. Who said Ishtar was friendly?

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Sarah Avery

Yes! Absolutely this.


Interesting idea.
Does sound good – but –

But if I talk about a project I’m writing with others, won’t someone just pick up on the idea, write it faster in a crude, butchered form and have a publisher with good lawyers take it?

Sarah Avery

Now my older kid’s in kindergarten, and my younger one just turned four, and he’s in preschool a couple of hours a day, four days a week. At my pre-mom productivity rate, that could have been a novel a year. As it is, I’ve blown nearly all of that time so far into the school year on doctors’ appointments for seven years of deferred maintenance on my own body.

It’s still mostly 15 minute chunks, but there are a lot more of them, and 30 minute chunks are getting more common. Every month is easier than the last.

Good luck!



My paranoia is usually right. I was warning friends and relatives ahead of time to use credit/gift cards/paypal for most online purchases and to avoid using debit cards for retail. If you are allergic to carrying cash just use a credit card and pay the balance. And I didn’t need an issue of “Paranoia: The Conspiracy Reader” (RIP that was a good mag!) to tell me it.

Simple logic; Credit cards were status symbols of the rich elite for 20 years before Ray-Gunn loaned them 0% interest money for that “Trickle Down” scheme that they turned into the 23% and way up usury slave shackles they are today. Therefore they got lobbied in protections so when the lowly waiter they snubbed out their Havannah cigar on his toungue took the card and bought a hot rod they’d not have to pay for it for real. Cue to the modern “Check Card” world, no such protections. If Borak of Former Glorious People’s Republik of Krokodil hacks “Mah and Pah’s grocery store”‘s paper thin security and drains your account, you are at the bank’s charity to get it back.

Likewise, yes I do think talking about an idea online, posting bits of it in a mostly public forum and sharing it with a group indeed could attract not just plagarism but a big company having literary hacks doing it deliberately.

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