The Games Writers Play (at least this writer)

by Jody Feldman

It was too many years ago to remember exactly when this happened.
I was on my first draft, as I recall, of The Gollywhopper Games and had lost steam that particular day. “Just write one page,” I urged myself. “Just one.”

In my mind, it was already huge that I’d gotten this far in the story. I’d imagined myself a picture book author, but that's another tale for another day. So I made myself a deal. I could quit for the day if I wrote one page. And for further encouragement, I challenged myself: Finish the physical page I was on then write the next—one single page—using every letter of the alphabet without my invoking the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. And without having my character recite the ABCs. And without veering the plot in a weird direction. This had to be done with careful word choice.

The game was challenging. The game was fun. I won the game, and not just because I’d managed to complete the task. While I did write an extra couple pages that day, more important, I learned that a little mindfulness made me a better writer. That page may have been my best to date.

I’ve played other games along the way. I mean, c’mon. I’m that person who, so far, has included puzzles in every one of her books.  I can’t say I’d go as far as doing something like this, probably not even with the letter M. But I am playing the ultimate (at least in my book, so to speak) novelist’s game.

Never did I ever entertain the idea of doing NaNoWriMo, writing an entire 50,000-word novel during the month of November. Yet, here I am, halfway done, according to their goal. My first drafts, however, usually come in upwards of 60,000 words. That toughens the game. And to make it even harder for me this year, I'm adding in several travel days, NCTE, company for Thanksgiving, a Skype, a webinar, doctors’ appointments, life. And hey! I’ve just wasted, to this point, 356 words on this blog entry. Sorry. Would love to play longer, but I’ve gotta...


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