National Novel Writing Month. Write a 50,000-word novel in the month of November. Whoever thought this up knew how to throw a monkey-wrench into it. After all, the holiday season begins, at least in the US, on Thanksgiving.

To those attempting their first novel, it sounds daunting. The problem with writing a novel without ever having done one is that you need to write a lot of words! For many, 500 words a day is manageable. For NaNoWriMo, as the annual even is called, you need to write 1,667 words a day. If you’re not used to those numbers, it can see overwhelming.

I did NaNoWriMo once. Ahead of time, I knew my story. It was one I planned to write anyway. I had a well detailed outline. At Bouchercon in 2006, I walked up to a well-known small publisher I knew somewhat, and told him about it, hoping he’d shoot me down.

“I want to see it when you’re done.”

Well, crap.

That Bouchercon took place in October. I started November 1st like a good little NaNoWriMo noob. I finished Road Rules in thirteen days. Fifty-five thousand words in thirteen days. I never even came close to that since then. Holland Bay took years of rewrites. Road Rules went through two rewrites before my publisher friend looked at it. He passed, though he was impressed it was done so fast. The book even got a couple of sniffs from New York. The second rewrite basically took out all the added stuff and shopped something resembling the original version.

I haven’t done NaNoWriMo since then. I did do nine novels in 14 months as TS Hottle, the third of which I’ve just released. But I’ve been working on the third Celloverse novel (the first being Holland Bay), and it fizzled. Twice.

I’m targeting 80,000-90,000 words. 90,000 comes to 3000 words a day. Whew! I’ve done it before. Hey, Road Rules comes to an average of 4230 a day. Keep in mind, I took a vacation to Hocking Hills State Forest for a week where most of the story was written.


This is where dictation comes in. I dictated virtually all the Suicide Arc as TS Hottle. Only one has to be rewritten, but I have almost three years to whip that one into shape. I used Google Docs on my phone, which still rears its ugly head. Dragon Naturally Speaking works better. With a new office upstairs into of the cold, echo-heavy basement near my stepson’s man cave, I have a quieter environment with no interruptions. I can take short breaks during the work day and also work after the day job ends for the day.

Even if I fail to finish the book in November, making 50,000 words in a month gets me well past the halfway point. Now, if I can just figure out this story…

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