| I dare me |

I Had 30 Days to Write a Novel

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Introducing…

As the author of this column, I’m often accused of doing all or most of the dares myself and pretending to be other people, but I’m happy to inform you that those subjects are all actual live people. So I’ve never properly introduced myself.

I love graphic design, making complicated crafts with my kids, and all kinds of creative pursuits, among them writing. But with two jobs and several small people in the house, I rarely find the time to write fiction.

The last piece of fiction I wrote, as my parents repeatedly mention, was a seventh-grade assignment about a drummer boy in some English war. The drummer boy died. (Obviously. I was 12.) My parents fondly remind me of that piece at every opportunity, so it’s about time to follow up with something a little higher quality, if only so I can erase the memory of my seventh-grade literary pretensions.

The Challenge

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is an annual challenge that takes place each November. Participants commit to writing daily to produce a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.

For the mathematically challenged, let me point out that that’s over 1,600 words a day (for comparison’s sake, this column’s about 900). And that statistically, about 15 percent of those days are going to be Shabbos. But I had the idea for my novel in the back of my mind for ages, and I know how to write, so how hard could this be?

Getting Ready

Ideally, NaNoWriMo is best tackled with a partner, but I’m unable to find one (I still bear a grudge, Bracha I’m-too-busy-writing-the-Kichels Stein). But I have my concept, and November is starting, so I bravely leap in.

That turns out to be a huge mistake. Hats off to Mishpacha’s serial writers who crank out quality work week after week, because it’s much harder than I ever anticipated. I thought I knew a lot about planning, outlining, and structure, and I’m good at words, but it turns out that novels are a whole different ball game than non-fiction, so I hit a brick wall barely two days in.

Retreating to lick my wounds, I decide I’ll do NaNoWriMo on my own schedule. I spend a few days plotting, sketching characters, and getting my thoughts in order. Once I’m satisfied that I’ve properly laid the groundwork, I’m back in the game — for real this time.

How It Went Down

This is embarrassing to admit in a public forum, but the author of this column is the first guinea pig to fail miserably at her dare. Which is not to say I don’t kind of reach the goal — I have a rough novel on my hard drive now — but I miss milestones and break rules with astonishing regularity.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 642)

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