Writing the first draft of a novel is hard. I should know, because even after getting two (! lol I’m a maniac) writing MFAs, I still had a hard time sitting down and getting the words on the page. I understood rationally that the only way to it was through it, but self-criticism and perfectionism managed to throw me off every time. The only way I could stay the course was by breaking it down into a simple daily goal: 1,000 words a day, every day, no sick days or exceptions, for 90 days. Even so, it was a real leap of faith to stay with it, because a lot of those words were sheer garbaggio. (Trust me.) I had to learn and employ all kinds of tricks to calm my howling anxiety, and I discovered many subtle ways to adjust my perspective so I could keep going.
A beautiful side effect of this process, and one I could have never anticipated, is that by surrendering to uncertainty in this way, I discovered a story that was so much richer, stranger, and more satisfying than I could have ever planned. My fiction before was kind of head-centric: brainy, ironic, funny, but hard to connect with. I wanted to write something that could reach another person’s feelings. My first draft was messy, bad, boring, overwritten, trite, and cloying … but, right there in the middle were 30 pages of pure gold. Characters who I loved and worried for, a weird and glimmering world, and a story I couldn’t wait to dive into telling. Here’s the wildest thing: I didn’t even remember writing it. I ended up throwing out most of that draft, but it was worth it, because I found the hidden thing that I really needed to write about. It just happened that I had to sort of trick myself to get there.
HERE BE MONSTERS is a collection of those tricks and perspective adjustments, along with pep talks, mini craft lectures, and other tools to help you write the first draft of a novel, distributed in a series of 90 emails, one per day. It’s not a conventional online writing workshop or video-lecture course, because I want you to actually do it every day.
Every week, I also host office hours for HBM writers (through a 2-hour Zoom call). You can sign up in advance for one-on-one writing coaching or just drop in to listen in on others' sessions or chat with the other participants.
At the end of the 90-day course, I’ll send you an ebook compilation of every single email, so you’ll have them for convenient future reference. But first, we’ll do it together, day by day by day.