National Novel Writing Month

nanowrimo1Every November thousands of struggling writers hunker down to write with “literary abandon” for thirty days, and thirty nights. We put aside all of our chores and excuses, and just write. We shun family and friends so that we can write. We write at least 1,667 words a day for thirty days. That’s how much time you have to write your 50,000 word novel. I’ve participated in this event every year since 2004. Participated, not finished. I managed to finish in 2011 (You can see my WINNER Badge displayed on my blog home page!) and that gives me hope for the future. Or at least for this year. I’m pretty excited. I’ve got my spiral notebook full of character notes, plot devices, and doodles. The ideas are spilling out faster than I can catch them. I have coffee at hand, and for the first time, I actually have a loose outline for my novel.

There are plenty of naysayers who think, “There is no way I could write 50,000 words in one month. And if I did, who would want to read it?” Maybe you have a valid point. Maybe your novel will be horrible. Maybe you are paralyzed by fear of failure, or of people laughing at you. Maybe your mom was right all along and you will never amount to anything. Maybe you shouldn’t even try. There are already plenty of novels out there, would yours really add to the landscape?

NaNoWriMo isn’t about writing the best novel the world has ever seen – in thirty days. It’s about turning off your inner editor long enough for you to start something and finish it – on deadline. It’s about taking an idea and running with it. December is jokingly called “National Editing Your Novel Month” by NaNo Nerds such as myself in order to remind us that – it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to get done. Sit down and write. Don’t look back. Don’t edit. Just write.

It’s always easier to participate in NaNo when you have a group of friends doing it also. Here are some good great reasons to participate in NaNoWriNo this November.

  1. You read Twilight and thought, “Man, I could write better than that.” Prove it.
  2. You are afraid you’ll fail. That’s cool. We all are. I have failed at this seven times. In a row. I failed until I didn’t. It’s not about winning, it’s about doing.
  3. You’ve always wanted to write a novel. Uh, hello? This is your chance! Set aside about two hours a day and just write. It doesn’t matter if it is good or not. Just write it. You can always edit it later. And by later, I mean in December.
  4. There is an international community of people doing the same thing. I just love how big NaNo has gotten. It seems folks from all over the globe are participating in NaNo. I had Czech friends do it, I saw people in China participating, heck, even people right next door are probably doing it.
  5. November is totally overrated. Thanksgiving? Eh, whatever. It’s just another excuse for not writing. We all work. We all have family and obligations, even in November. Make writing your 1,667 words a priority and then you can think about cooking that bird.
  6. Ninjas, pirates, and wolves – Oh My! I don’t know about you, but I love when a ninja pops out in a book. Maybe not a literal ninja, but a literary ninja. A literary ninja can spice up a boring story, or breathe new life into that stale plot you’ve been wrestling with. * Please note that the Ninja doesn’t have to be a ninja. Pirates, wolves, adorable yet deadly kittens all work just as well. 
  7. You’ll be able to answer “YES!” to the question, “Have you ever written a novel?” There are going to be plenty of assholes out there who say discouraging things to you. Don’t let them get you down. It isn’t easy to write a novel in thirty days. It’s really hard. It takes determination and follow through. But, by midnight on November 30, you’ll be able to say you have written a novel. It feels pretty great.
  8. You love to write. This should be reason enough. Now, take that love and push it to the limits for thirty days in a row. You can veg out and watch missed episodes of Homeland in December.
  9. You could be spending your time doing worse things. Watching reruns of New Girl. Playing Angry Birds. Holding up liqueur stores. Robbing banks. Drinking ’til dawn. Counting the number of stray cats in your neighborhood. Reorganizing your sock drawer. Shopping. Deciding that it’s finally time you steam cleaned that carpet. Scraping dead skin from your feet. Tie-dying.
  10. Finishing feels really, really awesome. Seriously. Getting to that 50,000 word mark makes you feel like a rock star. And it should. Like I’ve said, it isn’t easy. But completing such a huge task has huge rewards. Even if three of your chapters don’t make any sense, and your main character is annoying – it doesn’t matter. You did it! You finished writing a novel in thirty days! Have a party for yourself. Go out dancing. Open a bottle of wine and have at. You deserve it. You can start revising tomorrow.

6 thoughts on “National Novel Writing Month

  1. Great post. Thank you! This is my first year to attempt (win!) this event. “It’s about turning off your inner editor long enough for you to start something and finish it – on deadline.” I can’t even make a post on Facebook without thinking, editing, rethinking, and editing again. Pitiful! I intend to write, write, write, write, write … and be a WINNER!! Good luck to you on your second novel. Write on!!

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