Monday, November 12, 2012

Just do it!
by Brenda Janowitz

So, it's that time of year again.  The wind gets a bit sharper, the sun sets a little earlier, and thousands of people pound their keyboards for a month straight, in hopes of completing a 50,000 word manuscript by November 30.

That's right, it's National Novel Writing Month!  And in honor of NaNoWriMo, we're talking writing tips here on the Girlfriends Book Club.  Every writer has a few tips, and I'm no different.  So, here goes:

Keep writing! It’s so easy to get discouraged or feel like you don’t have the time to write. But like anything else that is important in life, you have to work at it and make the time for it.

This is the advice I give to every writer I meet.  But it's even more important to those who are participating in NaNoWriMo-- after all, you've only got this one month to complete the challenge.  What are you waiting for?!

But this advice pertains to anyone who wants to be a writer.  There will always be excuses to avoid writing-- I have no free time, I have little kids, I have big kids, I don't have kids yet, my job is too demanding, I need to find a job...  you fill in your own.  If writing is really your dream, make the time.  Start with a writing class, and then find a writer's group.  Once you commit to taking the time to write, you'll be able to find the time to put pen to paper.  (Or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be.)

Edit! Editing your work is almost as important as the writing itself. Sure, you’re telling your story, but it’s also important to consider the way that you tell it. You want your writing to be tight, elegant and polished. It can only get to be that way through careful and thorough editing.

For those of you doing NaNoWriMo, the time to edit isn't now.  The fun of NaNoWriMo is pounding out your story quickly, without looking back-- letting it all flow.  Once November 30th hits, though, then it's time to edit.  Take a little time off from your work and then come back to it, ready to turn it into the grand masterpiece that you know it is.

Develop a very thick skin. You’re putting yourself out there when you write and not everyone is going to love what you do. But that’s okay! You’re not writing to please everyone out there. You’re writing because you have a story that you want to tell. So start getting used to criticism and then see tip #1—keep writing!

Readers, are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year?  What's the fastest you've ever written a novel?  I wrote one this past summer in two months.  It has not been published.  I'm not sure if these two things are related or not....

I’m the author of SCOT ON THE ROCKS and JACK WITH A TWIST. My third novel, RECIPE FOR A HAPPY LIFE, will be published by St. Martin's in 2013. My work’s also appeared in the New York Post and Publisher’s Weekly. You can find me at or on Twitter at @BrendaJanowitz.


  1. Yes, I'm participating in NaNoWriMo this year for the second time, I'm a big fan. I completed the challenge my first go around and plan to do the same this year. So far I've written over 20k words. You're so right when you say it's not the time to edit while participating in NaNoWriMo.

  2. Kudos to you, Jill!! So excited for you-- I'm very impressed that it's your second time doing it. Keep at it and keep us posted!!

  3. Fun post, Brenda. Two months? That would kill me!

  4. Karin: Ha! Yes! I did it as a free writing experiment, just to see if an idea had legs. I think the idea does have legs, but now it's in desperate need of a massive edit!!

  5. Great tips, Brenda!
    Always great to be reminded of these important things...especially editing and developing a thick skin. Definite "musts" for a writer :).

  6. Thanks, Marilyn!! I'm still working on the thick skin part. :)

  7. I'm beginning to develop a pattern of tardiness! Great post, Brenda! And great tips for those aspiring as well as those who, well, continue to aspire. It never ends, does it?

  8. No, it doesn't, Laura!! After three novels, I'm still reading everyone's tip and gobbling them up!