c is for cat

Rules for Anchorites

Letters from Proxima Thule

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I really needed this right now (and I needed to re-visit Kerouac's list; I used to have a copy nearby years ago). I've been slogging through a non-fiction project for the past few weeks and can't. seem. to. finish. I think I just need to barf it all up; making sense of the mess can come later.

Brilliant. Right. Going to try it with a film.



genius communal crazy crafty failproof! thanks, i missed the first time.

ever read(or consumed somehow other than reading(the work's nature)) The Novel of the Future by Nin?


Totally heart this post!

Thank you.

I think I will tape this on my wall.

Oh look, my new favorite post.

This, I think, was probably the "why" of my ridiculous geniushood in philosophy, and why it fell apart as soon as it stopped being about writing amazing papers on insane deadlines.

Still, I have yet to use it well for fiction.


Thank you!

Lovely essay, thank you.

As a veteran of several years of Nano (mainly because my internal deadline feature is broken, since I've always thought their "write crap" line was at best unhelpful) I'd also add that if your brain works in plot, putting it all together in a short space of time helps you keep track of all the threads that might otherwise have a chance to fall out of your head before you need to use them. You're more likely to remember just how that scene went if you wrote it last week, rather than last month, and it cuts down on the going back to re-read things time.

this was exactly what i needed to hear today.

thank you :)

Does this system work for writing a dissertation in 30 days?

...By God, I am going to find out.

I SO want to read your dissertation.

How terrifying! But, when I finally have a dissertation worth showing to people, it might actually be of interest to you.

The key, really, is to never learn you can fail.

I know that disagreeing with you is akin to calling lightning down on my head, but I'm going to do so anyway. Giving this advice to beginning writers strikes me as a tad dangerous. Not dangerous to you, but to those novelists who are not you and not Kerouac.

And really, most of us aren't. Most of us have day jobs, responsibilities and need to pause for thought while writing a novel. A great number of us try really hard to incorporate lessons learned in the last novel into the next project. I, personally, strive to improve with each book I write.

Newer writers who take this to heart and can't produce a coherent novel in 30 days? They will feel like failures for sure. I also don't know a single pro-writer with a 30 day deadline. My friends average six months to a year before a draft is due at the publisher.

Everyone fails at some aspect of their writing, at sometime. In my not so humble opinion, the real key is to not let failure stop you and to learn from those failures. Fall down seven times, get up eight, as a mutual friend of ours is fond of saying.

I am not a genius, of any kind, and I'm not you or Kerouac. Nor, honestly, do I want to be. What I am is a damn good writer and my agent has a great deal of faith in me.

I fail sometimes, because I'm human and fallible. And that's okay.

This is what I need to think to get a novel done that fast. And a 30 day deadline is what I often have, because I procrastinate, and that sucks but I do it to myself. This time I have it because the publisher rejected my proposed deadline and I had to take time off between this novel and the last one or this one would never have gotten written at all. It was a calculated risk, knowing and learning as I did last time that one thing I can't do is write two novels back to back.

I can fail in all sorts of ways. But I've never learned to fail at finishing a project, and it's been pretty good for me in the long run. However, I also acknowledge in the post that I have neither kids nor a day job and that this is really bad advice.

Also the be a genius thing is about believing you are, so your internal editor will chill for five seconds. When Kerouac says it that's what he means, to, I think. He didn't say I Am A Genius All The Time. He said You Are.

Heh. I love how this is simultaneously really awesome advice and really terrible advice, but refreshingly insightful either way.

Thank you for posting this here, I hadn't read it in the other location, and I needed to read it.

Not just right now either.

Possibly I need to read it once a month until I believe that it could, in some universe, apply to me and my creative efforts.

Possibly once a week, now that I think on it, since I'm not starting till I'm mid-30's and there's a lot of "I can't" and "that's for talented people" and "I should have started training myself that way ages ago if I wanted to Be Creative" built up that needs chipping away. ;P

I have no idea what that posted as anonymous....that's never happened to me before. :P The previous comment was me...and I am not a crazy anonymous stalker...

...I am a crazy blatantly identified stalker. ;D

Were you the one who sent me the scarf? I couldn't read the name on it but I thought it said Gail...

I'm sad to say that wasn't me. Perhaps another Gail....

And if even once I had failed to turn in a paper, failed to churn out twenty pages ...

It's nice to know we have something in common. ; )

I'm listening to this post very intently.

I have one word for you-- nanowriwe. You managed well under 30 days, my friend-- it was something more like 2 weeks or so, for you and the Labyrinth on the first pass, if I am recalling correctly.

10 days, yeah, but that makes people scrunch their nose when I blab about it.

Kudos for Zero Punctuation icon.

You write with a speed that is always intimidating to me, I want to be Speed Riter Cat when I grow up!

Also, you may want to adopt our house's slogan: No room for failure!

I needed this now as well.

Now I need to see if I can apply this to *finishing* a novel. I have two weeks until Fall semester. I'm @ 75K words and floundering. I loved this novel, I really did. But now I hate it and want to kill it with fire. It's like all of my characters have turned into horribly boring melting wax figures and wandered off into "Passions." (Anyone remember that soap opera? It was gloriously ridiculous.)

So yeah. I need to find my genius. And crank out 20K words in two weeks.

Make that 2 weeks until Spring semester. Ugh.

This is brilliant and glaringly true. Adding it to Memories.

"…And if even once I had failed to turn in a paper, failed to churn out twenty pages on gender anxiety in Gawain and the Green Knight, if I had even once failed to get an A, I think I would have rethought my methods and come to some sort of conclusion about work ethics."

Yeah, that happened or failed to happen or whatever to me to. The day I gave up on not procrastinating the writing was the day I wrote a paper the night before it was due and got told it was better than my prof's masters thesis on the same topic.

I sometimes wish I'd learned that I can fail so I would procrastinate less now, but I still get A's in grad school so... it all evens out?

i've always thought these things should be titled, "how to write a first draft in XXX days."

LOL to the last line.

Great post! For a long time I told myself I could go "at my own pace," but I realize now that that was just my excuse not to push myself. To be faster or better. (I'm not saying everyone who says something like that is lying to themselves, just that I was.) So 2010 is about really becoming a writer, not just in my desires, but in my actions. I'll definitely be keeping your advice in mind.

The How to Write a Novel in a Month and the How to Write a Novel in Two Months post (mine) are nicely complementary for a couple of reasons. One, Cat's is largely inspirational and mine has specific details. Two, my novel was 85k and hers was, I think, 55k. Should be stuff for everyone to pick through and find things that work for them.



The first novel I did this was was 55k. I have since done longer books with this method, if you can call it a method.

Sad Cat in Snow: Megatokyo reference?

Or am I just confused as usual?

You have no idea how much of a huge inspiration this, and you, is. Tada!

I stumbled upon your blog while googling "how to write a novel in 30 days". I've never written a novel nor aspired to ... it's not on any bucket list I might never draw up and I have no interest in it what-so-ever. Yet here I am thinking I can pit myself against 1667 words per day, EVERY day for the month of November. Did I mention I tend to deign arrogance? It's just something different & fun to try & would ya look at this cute blog I found!!! Love your design & chatter <3

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