How I’m Writing a 30-Day Novel – A Special Journal

If you’re joining us for the first time today, this is the fourth installment in my series about writing by the seat of your pants. I’m calling it a 30-day novel series because my ultimate goal is to write a complete novel in 30 days or less.

By the way, here are the links to the previous lessons:

This installment is also the final installment before novel writing begins, but more on that in a moment.

Time To Start a Journal

Any of you who have followed my blogs for any length of time know I keep journals. I love to journal. Personal journals. A general writing journal. A journal for each story. Even journals for each painting. There is no such thing as a bad journal so far as I’m concerned.

Followers of Indie Plot Twist will also know Danielle recently wrote an excellent series of posts on journaling to become a better writer (you can read the first post here).

What you may not know is that I walk every morning as weather permits. The one-mile walk gives my brain time to disconnect from the act of writing and from technology.

It doesn’t always mean my brain isn’t working on writing, however.

On one day late in the second week in the life of The Candidate, I went for my walk as usual. But every person I met and several things I observed prompted thoughts about the story at large or about the lead character. Each one was like a window opening to provide a glimpse into the massive house that this story will become.

It wasn’t surprising to have a walk like that. It has happened before.

But it was surprising to have so many of the ideas present situations and possibilities I’d never before considered for any character. Personal glimpses into human nature and how that nature might influence my lead.

So when I got home, I sat down, picked up pen and paper, and began writing.

And writing and writing and writing.

Here is a sampling.

Is one of the things the lead character struggles with a dogmatic, black-and-white attitude? If so, does she need to learn compassion? Is the discovery of the need for compassion (for deceived and deceiver alike) what she needs to learn, along with obedience?


I saw a women walking. She had a cell phone pressed to her ear. She didn’t acknowledge me in any way when we met. I’ve seen her before. She had a cell phone then, too. Same lack of acknowledgment. What if the lead character has a similar experience, remarks to herself how people willingly isolate themselves, then realizes she’s doing the same thing and puts her phone away?


Smokey came to the porch when I went out to walk. I gave him food. He was gone when I came back. Use my anger at Pepper when he attacks Smokey to inform the anger one of my characters feels when he or she sees someone being victimized.

There’s more to that day’s journaling, but the more important idea to arise from my walk was the need to be more observant. Pay more attention to the people I encounter and the places I walk through, then write down the significant things when I get back home.

Then use that material to help me get into a character’s mind and skin to understand how he thinks or the way she might respond to certain situations.

The new journal is called Notes From My Morning Walk  and I intend to add to it regularly. The goal for now is to record sights and situations that contribute to The Candidate, but there are other stories to tell, too. Many stories.

The larger goal is to become more aware of human nature and the interactions of the people around me. One can never observe enough of human nature, after all.


I mentioned at the beginning of this post that this is the final post before writing begins. This series was written in June, as I prepared for Camp NaNoWriMo’s July event. All the while you’ve been reading these posts, I’ve been working on the novel.

But this isn’t the end of the 30-Day Novel Series. I’ve also been writing weekly updates on the Camp NaNo experience and the progress–or lack thereof–of The Candidate. After all, writing a 30-day novel is about a lot more than just the run up to writing. It’s about the writing!

So join me next week for the next installment and the next stage in the journey to writing the 30-day novel.

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