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Winning Doesn’t Matter

My old contract at my day job ended on November 13th. Amidst a crazy amount of interviews, squeezing in time to set in the woods and shoot at deer, and attend some family activities I also managed to start, write, and finish a new book. Yesterday I even set a personal record by writing 12,500 words. All told the new book took me about 10 days to write. Not my best but still impressive (I wrote Bound in 8 days earlier this year). The new book, by the way, is called When the Cookie Crumbles and it’s a modern detective / mystery bit of fiction. Depending on whether it’s received as well as I hope it is, it may be the first book in a series entitled Cookie Cutters. No, the book doesn’t go on at length about baking but it does possess a very unique and fun character as a co-star named Cookie.

I consider When the Cookie Crumbles a win for many reasons – it kept me busy in the week and a half before my new day job starts. It helped me get another book out. It allowed me expand into pure modern detective / mystery fiction. I got to dive into some new and very cool characters with some quirks unlike any I’ve every explored or written about before. Oh, and it allowed me unofficially give NaNoWriMo the finger.

For those of you wondering what NaNoWriMo is, it’s not just a word created to challenge conventional rules of capitalization. It stands for National Novel Writing Month, or something like that. It’s a contest created a few years back by somebody who felt they needed to motivate themselves to dedicate a month that’s already chocked full of stuff with writing a complete book, start to finish. The book has to be 50,000 words or more to satisfy the challenge requirements.

Whoever this writer was, it spread like wildfire through the writing community and now tons of writers are doing it. I remember thinking a few years ago, “Holy crap, write a book in a month?! No way!” At that time I’d written Dark Earth in 8 – 10 weeks and that seemed like a Herculean effort on my part.

But then sometime around the end of 2011 or beginning of 2012 I realized I could stop holding myself back. I started writing faster and faster. Not the kind of writing that gets cut and tossed on the editing room floor. Real words that stuck with the story. I refined and improved and began cranking out a book a month and I stuck with it. I’m still sticking with it – or in the case of this last week, I’m doing it a lot faster.

So, to all the people who are stressing about writing a 50,000 word novel in a month let me say this: I just wrote a 60,000 word novel in 10 days and before that I wrote Dragonlady, a 67,000 word book that required about 90% of the content being written in November. Oh yeah! I also worked with my co-writer on another novel called Devil’s Island to finish that up this month. We churned out at least 25,000 words this month too between the two of us. That’s two and a half books and well over 100,000 words in the first three weeks of November. It can be done and you can do it. Now stop making excuses and write your ass off.

What’s next? Well I start the new day job on Monday but that doesn’t mean I’m taking a break from writing. Even if I think I’ve pretty well won the NaNoWriMo challenge (even though I didn’t officially sign up to participate), I plan to get started on my next Vitalis book right away. Maybe even later today. There are characters with stories to tell and nightmares to fight – how dare I consider not pushing ahead to help them (or put them out of their misery) as soon as I can?

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

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