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5 Valuable Lessons from a 50

If you took a bucket of paint and flung it across an empty canvas, you’d have

For the entire month of November, I got up early every morning and flung buckets of words

It’s a really shitty novel that I’d never let anyone read, but when I add

November is National Novel Writing Month, also known as “NaNoWriMo” (clearly an organization without a marketing department)

Again, a really shitty novel, but one more than almost everyone else has

I was too busy watering my goldfish or whatever, so I put it on my calendar for

Then to make it even worse, the editor of The Writing Cooperative, Justin Cox sent me (and

The pressure was too intense, so I caved in and gave it a try

” About a decade ago I dipped my toes into that volcano and ended up with more of

That’s three-quarters of a full-time job! Luckily, I’m retired so for me it was just

“Six words a minute? That’s not so bad,” you’re thinking

But try doing that for 8,520 minutes and then let me know what you think

I had a few days with only 1 or 2 hours and plenty with 6 to 8 hours

Oh, and fun fact: I wrote a total of 279,554 keystrokes (that includes spaces)

I didn’t just sit down at the keyboard and magically invent a compelling plotline

I had an idea that had been smoldering for a few years and the week before I

Scrivener was the writing tool I used, and I’m glad I bought it (only $49)

I did invest the hour or more in their detailed tutorial which was extremely helpful

Having the ability to see the entire chapter sequence on the left, and chapter and project notes

I could post references into the notes and add reminders and questions for later cleanup

I plan to keep doing that through the rewrites so I’ll know how much time was

When driving or shopping, watching TV, or drifting off to sleep, I thought of the characters and

My phone was beside me at all times and I made notes when something clever popped up

I started on the opening scene and went straight through to the end

When I got to the end and realized I had written only 42,000 words I said “Oh shit!”

In many ways, I felt like I did when I was working full-time

The pressure that I put on myself was intense, incessant, and quite unpleasant

I was energized and excited, eager to write my way to the finish line

The feeling of accomplishment is beyond explanation (bad for a writer I suppose)

But the confidence that I gained from completing it is as permanent as a tattoo

The lessons I learned will serve me well as I continue to pursue my writing career

When you learn to accept imperfection, you can jam the gas pedal to the floor like a

There’s a big debate online about “plotters” versus “pantsers

Pantsers just jump right in and write by the seat of their pants as they go

I recommend a small amount of planning so you have a general idea of the story arc

I like how my characters and plot evolved and grew better as I wrote

Treat it that way by making a commitment that you’ll stick to it

If you set a target of 1,000 words a day, then sit down every day and keep your

Blocking out specific times of the day worked well for me, and I highly recommend it

My wife and all my friends knew to leave me alone until noon, and that allowed me

Just vomit words on the page and worry about cleaning up your mess later

Here’s an example of a horrible line from my novel: “Longer is better I suppose

It is inevitable that you’ll write yourself into a corner or hit a creative wall

That happened to me several times and it was extremely frustrating

But I didn’t, rather I just wrote from that point forward as if that wrong turn

In a day or two, you’ll think of a new angle that will jump you over

The distraction of stopping or going back and fixing things lifts you out of the scene, which

I asked a friend of mine a few years ago to recommend a school where I could