12 January 2009

Book in a Month

I discovered this fabulous little spiral bound volume while rummaging through Barnes and Noble just prior to the turn of the new year. It is entitled “Book in a Month” and it promises to deliver enough encouragement, enough tricks and tips to help you do just that: write a book in a month.

For any of you who have written a book, you understand my skepticism upon first crossing paths with this orange little volume. You can’t help but notice it. First of all, the color. Secondly, the title is incredulous. “Write a book in a month?” I thought, “Yeah, right.” But I picked it up. Got snagged on the hook. I fought a bit. But it won. It reeled me in.

Believe it or not, it is working. I am on my second week; to be more precise, day one of my second week and I have already written more in one week than I have ever written on a single book in a period of seven days. I am a well known procrastinator, and terrible at talking myself out of things (even things I desperately desire to do) so to be able to tell you I’ve written two more days than my goal of five and eleven hours over my intended goal of ten for all of last week is perhaps one of my finest accomplishments in a long, very long time. It even ranks above finishing the first book of this trilogy on which I am working. Of course, in light of what I’ve learned in this boot camp for the author, I must return to book one and edit it. All 574 pages of it. (If that shocks you, imagine how I feel!)

I won’t bore you with the details of what I’ve done or how I’ve kept on task. The book is designed for someone who is coming to their book with but a vague idea and, perhaps, for someone who has never written a book before. But it is user friendly and I have been able to alter it to my needs. I won’t try and talk you into going out and buying the book, although I do think any novelist would benefit from even just the wisdom contained in the first half.

No, I write about it to say this: you can do anything if you make a commitment to do it. It was terribly frightening for me to tell myself I was going to do this, I was going to write a book in a month, no ifs, ands, or buts. It was terrifying for me to tell my husband, my mother, a best friend what I was going to do because that makes me accountable to others. It means now I was going to let down people I care deeply about. True, saying you’re going to write a book in a month and not doing so is not going to alter the world, devastate the rain forest or claim the life of your first born. But just knowing that someone is out there rooting for you, cheering you on and then you tell them you didn’t cross the finish line, well, that’s a bit more than I can bear.

Whether you are working on a novel or just wanting to repaint a closet, try making a commitment. Write it out, contract-style, sign and date it, and stick it somewhere you’ll see it everyday. Repainting a closet can be quite important (if you’re selling the house, I suppose), but try this with something that means a lot to you. If you have ever thought about writing a short story, a journal, a poem, tell yourself that for one month, you are going to do just that. Even if it takes you more (or less) time to see it into ultimate completion, at least give yourself the benefit of a month to pour yourself into something you believe in, you desire. It’s only 30 days. If at the end of that time you hate it, don’t want to ever pick up a pen (or paint brush) again, then at least you can say “I tried”. But don’t give up before you ever start. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. You just may surprise

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