Words Per Gallon (of Coffee) by Jennifer Levine

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Jennifer has an unusual obsession with coffee, a natural prerequisite for becoming a writer.

Words per Gallon (of Coffee)

Writers all.

Ask any ‘pro’, the first draft of a novel is, first of all, “crap” and, second, about opening your arteries and bleeding on a page. With 1667 words hanging over your head every single day (including Thanksgiving) during this marathon/sprint you learn pacing very quickly or you find yourself 20,000 words behind in the last week and sweating bullets. (Been there, done that, actually managed to win that year.)

Me? I’m a Pantser. No matter how hard I try to plan out something, at the last minute I punt and I’m off on some creative journey delivered from left field. Nor am I a speed demon. I barely cross the finish line with more than a couple hours to spare. At this point, 7 years into this exercise, my ‘planning’ consists of muttering to Writing Dog about potential ideas. I don’t have writer’s block… I have writer’s guilt: ‘I should be working on this but I want to be working on that!’

Nevertheless, what I’ve learned from participating in NaNoWriMo is better than any writing class, symposium or workshop you can take. In my opinion, if you are serious about being a writer, write your first 50,000 words during NaNoWriMo, no cheating. In other words, don’t use the ‘Traveling Shovel of Death.’ (a much beloved 4-word tool to kill a character off when they are in the way and you are stuck.)

I’ve learned to let go, let my characters take over. I’ve written messy murders and steamy sex scenes. There are no boundaries. Not when there is a word count and your characters are driving the story. And isn’t that the real goal? My characters start living. I’m am but a voyeur on their lives.

“Your first book was a NaNoWriMo story, wasn’t it,” Jersey finished her sandwich and picked up her cup of coffee.

“Yes, it was, thanks for remembering.” I beam. Jersey said ‘first book’ which implies there will be a second book. Yes there will be.