Have you heard of this?  The challenge is to write 50,000 words in the month of November.  I’m proud to say, I typed my first word on November 2nd and my 50,028th word on November 29th, late in the day (I didn’t want to have the pressure of ‘the last day’ hanging over my head).

Is it a work of genius?  No.  But I have been planning,plotting and researching this book for five years and it was this contest that got me over the hurdle between  imagining how great it was going to be and the reality of what a line of dialogue looks like. Who knows how many more years it would have taken me just to get started without this challenge.

The idea is, no matter what, your first draft  of a novel is not good. You do, however, need the draft before you can start making it better.  For 28 days I showed up at the computer and took care of the quantity.  Muses arrived a few times and put some real quality into some of those pages.  The rest I will edit and give those Muses more opportunities to inspire me.

The biggest thing I learned is there is no place for that critical voice in my head at the beginning of a writing project.  I stalled before because I was afraid it would never be as good as I imagined it.  Having a goal of two to three thousand words a day replaced the critical voice.  My critical side just focused on the word count goal, freeing up my creative side to play.

The contest also inspired me to create a ritual around my writing time.  After the kids were off to school, I put the kettle on at medium, set the stove timer for  20 minutes, turned out the lights, settled into my comfy chair and meditated.  As part of my book research I read that focus on the 6th chakra stimulates your imagination.  After some relaxing breaths I focused my energy on my creative third eye and let thoughts flow by.  Eventually the kitchen timer went off, the kettle was hot for tea and I fired up the computer refreshed and ready to write.  It was lovely.

Whenever I hit a block I just went to the archetypal structure of the Hero or the Virgin and imagined the next step.  Between eliminating my critical voice and having the structure to move me forward I was never blocked for long.  I got lost in the world of Egyptian Mystery religions and crime writing in a really enjoyable way (I’m mentioning  this so you can hold me accountable to have a finished product on this subject next year).

What is your writing ritual?