No, not the hurricane currently bearing down on the southeast. I’m talking about NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing month. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s a month-long writing intensive that happens every year during the month of November. Basically, people who sign up pledge to write “a novel in a month,” or at least 50,000 words, which isn’t quite a full novel (unless you’re writing middle grade). Still, it’s a solid chunk. You can work on a rough draft of 50,000 words, and that’s the point, to get something down since you can only edit something that actually exists.
The gist is that in order to hit 50,000 words, you need to write 1667 words per day. This is a lot, to be sure, but a do-able goal, especially if you take advantage of the supports offered by the NaNoWriMo organization – forums, local groups, online inspiration, etc.
Confession: I’ve never actually done NaNoWriMo, mainly because I always seem to be in the middle of a book when it comes around, and one of the precepts is that you must be starting something new. I do applaud it, however, in the sense that it keeps you writing for one month. I’ve done my own version, with my writing group, where we’ve each picked a goal and done weekly check-ins to mark our progress. One advantage is that it not only keeps you writing, but does so at a time of year when many people let things slide, as the crush of the various holidays descends. It shows us that we can do far more than we think we can, if only we put our minds to it.
So, if you decide to do the full NaNoWriMo monty, go for it! Go to www.nanowrimo.org for more information on how it all works, and to sign up. If not, I still encourage you to set a goal, and make it an ambitious one. Not impossible, but a real challenge. Even better, get together with a group and declare your goals together. Set regular times to check in. Whether you’re doing it alone or with others, make sure you set mini-goals within the time period, and plan a series of rewards to celebrate your hard work!
You can just wing it and start writing on November 1, or plan out your novel and have lots of information to get you started – character bios, plot outlines, world-building, etc. Whether you do the official NaNoWriMo or not, the site has lots of helpful tips and information to help you prepare.
As for me, I’m not sure if my book rewrite would count (and in revision mode I usually count hours, not words). But gearing up to make a big push toward getting it done makes sense.
What about you? Is there a big project (in writing or another creative work), that you need to focus on? That you’ve been putting off starting, or are stalled on? Planning to take on NaNoWriMo this year? Let us know in the comments.
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