A couple of months ago, this site got a bit heated over NaNo. I don’t intend to open that dialogue again. Instead, I’m offering a glimpse of how I work, year-round. I hope it will prove beneficial, as I’m super excited to share this story with y’all.
It involves three of my friends / colleagues, which makes it even better. As many of you know, in fall of 2009, I fast drafted my YA, ENCLAVE. (Fast drafting is writing 5,000 words or 20 pages a day, until you have a rough draft. This can be anywhere from two weeks to twenty days, depending on the desired length.) That experiment worked out so well for me that I decided to try and recreate the perfect storm by doing the same thing with my second YA, OUTPOST.
And yes, I did it in December. (Yes, I am a little bit crazy, doing this while trying to get ready for the holidays, but I think it helps when you write for a living. Normal people would give up, after the 100th rejection, no?) I started writing on December 6th, along with Jaye Wells, Candace Havens, and Louisa Edwards. We all had projects we wanted off our desks before the end of the year; we were all driven and excited. But first, let me back up. We connected a conference in Texas in November and we became really good friends. It seemed natural that we would try and continue that new friendship after we went home.
And did we ever. Candace proposed the December write-a-palooza (my name, not hers), and at first we were a bit reluctant. It’s a tough time of year to make that commitment, right? But eventually we all got on board. We agreed we would write a crazy amount, every single day, until our projects were done. We pledged to email each other with our wordcounts, cheering each other on as we went.
We did. I cherished those emails. They weren’t intrusive or distracting. We checked when our words were done, and we sent our WOOs to each other, and punched the air when someone else did better than they expected. It was, quite simply, amazing. And their focus bled into me. I fell into my book, sparked by their enthusiasm. It then occurred to me that we could do this year round. We could keep it going. There’s no need that a perfect storm should happen only once, if you know the prevailing meteorological conditions that created it. Obviously, you need to find the perfect mix of personalities to kindle the magic, but it’s so worth the wait.
I have to say, I have never had a better group writing experience. I tend to be a lone wolf and I motivate myself. I’m very driven, goal-oriented, but knowing that I was working alongside three wonderful ladies made me feel like I was part of something bigger than myself. So that’s what I recommend for everyone else. Find your perfect group. Settle in. And even if you don’t exchange crits, even if they just help you keep sane during the writing process, you need that support year round. Don’t lose touch with the people who understand what you’re going through. Share your goals and your success will be sweeter than you could ever have imagined.
Who are the people who keep you writing?
Photo courtesy Flickr’s Andreanna Moya Photography