How I Rewired My Brain & Made My Writing Career Possible
It’s November, and for many writers across the globe, that means it’s time for NaNoWriMo. You know, the “write a novel in 30 days” challenge.
I’m a big fan of NaNoWriMo, having “won” the past two years. It radically changed my writing habits and made it possible to launch a career as a full-time writer.
NaNoWriMo rewired my brain.
It taught me discipline. With NaNoWriMo, you write every day, even when you’ve had a hard day at work, or you’ve gone out for beers with your friends, or you’re on a week-long work trip to another country. This discipline forced me to view writing as “work” and not just a hobby. It also allowed me to turn out more than one novel in a single year. (Now, I know the “write every day” concept is disputed among writers, but almost every successful author I’ve met writes at least 5 days a week, for at least a couple of hours a day, and treats it like a job, with the rest of the day spent on marketing, blogging, research, editing, etc.)
It introduced me to the art of drafting. You write a draft first and then go back and edit, instead of folding editing into the drafting process. This vastly improved my productivity and speed.
It forced me to write past the “dry spells”. Because you have to keep producing words, you have to write even when ideas don’t come readily. There have been those days when my first words were literally, “I don’t know what to write today” but that always got me going.
It made me realize that everyone has time to write. When you meet other writers, you realize that the ones who succeed at NaNoWriMo are the ones who make the sacrifice to achieve their goal of writing a novel. I’ve talked to people with demanding jobs (one who works 70 hours a week) who can still hit their 50,000 word goal. I know people with children, or physical limitations, who can make it work. And if they can do it, I can do it. Saying anything else is just an excuse.
It introduced me to independent publishing as a viable option. I first learned about people making real money as indie published authors at a NaNoWriMo kickoff, and since then I’ve invested considerable time in learning how that works. As a result, I’m about to publish my first book, By Moonrise, in December 2015.
It turned me into a writer. Before NaNoWriMo, I was someone who liked to write. After two NaNoWriMos, I realized I was a writer. Because of the way NaNoWriMo changed my relationship with writing, helping me become more disciplined and productive, I was able to launch a successful freelance career as a copywriter. I am also turning my writing hobby into a business, publishing my own books and soon, helping others with the indie publishing process.
For more about Jackie and her writing, visit her blog at jackiedana.com.