Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Tag: NaNoWriMo

What a Difference a Year Makes

Sometimes all it takes is a little distance.

Last year I participated in the National Book Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) competition for the first time. I’ve known a couple writer friends who have participated in this grueling 30-day challenge/competition and although I have shied away from it in the past, I thought last year I would participate.

I had recently finished and self-published two books, When A Hard Rain Falls and I’ll Be Home for Christmas, so I had a clean slate as it were to try my hand at this competition. I had this one idea in mind, which I thought would be perfect for the competition, but at the last minute I changed my mind and started on Murder in the Moonlight instead. Murder in the Moonlight has been on the back burner for about three years and I thought now as good a time as any to write it (I had a fairly extensive outline for it).

On November 1, 2013 I started and for the next 30 days I wrote feverishly to finish (I did with a few days to spare). The manuscript was a good first draft, but there were a lot of holes in the story. I didn’t think it was complete and it didn’t read right. And to be honest, I didn’t like it. Instead of rewriting it, I shelved it and continued another project, The Panama Affair, which I recently finished.

Not long after I finished my recent book, I happened by chance one day to open the file for Murder in the Moonlight, and I started reading it. This was the first time since last year that I looked at the manuscript. It read a lot differently than it did a year ago. In fact, I was surprised at what I had written.

Sometimes you need to look at a story, paper, or a novel with a fresh pair of eyes and perspective. Sometimes a writer needs some distance for a piece of writing to simmer and percolate.

Guess what I am working on next?

NaNoWriMo: Challenge Accepted


NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is the annual month-long writing event whereby aspiring as well as published authors spend one month writing a novel of 50,000 words. Basically, it’s a contest for people who have always talked about writing that “book” one day, but for some reason or another have never gotten around to doing it.

The contest is simple and challenging. For one month, in November, participants are to write a 50,000-word novel. There are kinds of pep talks, gatherings, write-ins (which to me smacks more of social networking than serious writing, but that’s just me) all designed to help writers finish their projects. In order to finish on time, one has to write on average 1,667 words a day, which doesn’t seem like much, but this is every day. Fall behind and you just might not catch up.

I’ve known a few people who have done it in the past and when November 1st started getting close, I thought, what the hell, let’s see if I could do it this year. You know, just to say that I did it. As it happened, I had this one idea for a thriller set in Korea that I have been wanting to write for some time, but was too busy with other writing projects: Ice Cream Headache, When A Hard Rain Falls, and the soon-to-be-published, I’ll Be Home For Christmas.

How am I doing so far? I’ve managed to meet my daily word quota and as the contest started its third week, I have started to pull ahead of the word count quota; though this is more for insurance purposes knowing quite well of the corners we writers sometimes write ourselves in.

My original idea has gone through a couple of changes; surprisingly, these changes have actually given me more fodder to write. I love how writing is a journey of discovery: you start out with one idea and then suddenly you stumble across a twist or turn in the plot which takes your book on a whole new exciting path.

Enough said here. I need to get back to my book.

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