November…November… What was I supposed to do in November again?

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OH!

It’s NaNoWriMo! Seriously. November really snuck up on me this year. I hadn’t even planned to participate in NaNo this year. It didn’t even occur to me that tomorrow is November 1st. But once I saw friends’ posts on Facebook talking about it today, I made a last-minute decision to go for it.

What’s that you say? You’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo? Well, you’re in for a treat. Here’s a quick blurb from the website:

“National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.”

That’s it. Thirty days and nights of literary abandon, as the website used to say. This is the perfect time for you to write that novel that’s been tumbling around your head. If that sounds too intimidating (What? Thirty days to write a novel? You’re crazy!), here are a few key things to keep in mind:

1. Don’t take yourself or your novel too seriously. This is supposed to be fun. Some people tend to forget that and start to stress out over getting their 50,000 words in by November 30th. Have fun with your writing. If you get bored with it, write something ridiculous in the middle of it. If things get too heavy, add in a few jokes. It can all be taken out during the editing process, which comes much, much later.

2. Don’t freak out about the details. If you have to, write your novel out of order—ending first, beginning in the middle, middle strewn throughout with the meat of it on the last pages. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, there are no rules to dictate how you write your novel. As long as you have the bones of your book down at the end of the month, who cares? Again, editing comes later.

3.  Do pace yourself. 50,000 words might seem like A LOT, but when it comes down to it, your goal is really just 1,667 words per day. Totally do-able. My strategy is to try to write as much as I can each day in the beginning. Shoot for doubling (even tripling!) your word count on day one when you’re fresh and raring to go. I won’t lie. Some days, making your word count might seem a little like a chore. If you do as much as you can when you are in an inspired mood, you’ll be a little bit ahead and won’t lose much by taking a day or two off when you get busy or blocked.

4. Don’t freak out about commitment. No one’s going to chide you for “losing.” If I were a betting lady, I’d dare to say that most NaNo participants don’t end up with 50,000 words by November 30th. How does that saying go? No one ever accomplished anything without trying first. If you don’t end up with 50,000 words, you’ll at least have a feel for what it’s like. And hey! You’ll have a huge chunk of a novel ready to go whenever you decide to finish it!

5. Do find fellow NaNo’ers in your area. Taking part in local write-ins and other events is a great way to keep yourself motivated and inspired. Being around people who have accepted the same challenge is really helpful. You’re kindred spirits. A couple of my favorite things about write-ins are word wars and drawing challenges from a hat. Challenges might ask you to kill a character, include an odd word in your next paragraph, or make your main character eat worms. They’re silly, but they’re fun and stretch your mind.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to just have fun with NaNoWriMo! Don’t worry about anything but writing. Write your little heart out. Don’t delete anything. Don’t fix typos. Just get those words out. Then you can take December off and come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes in January for editing. So let’s get going! Get your pen/Word/Pages/Scrivener/Storyist/notepad ready, and have a mini-freakout if you need to. Then chug some coffee, unwrap that Halloween candy, and get down to it as soon as the clock hits midnight. Until then, check out the website. Sign up, edit your profile, write a little blurb about your novel-to-be, make a small donation if you feel like it, commiserate/celebrate/share ideas/ask questions on the forums, and check out the badges and word count widgets you can add to your blog, website, or Facebook page.

If I can do this, you can. Maybe I’ll even share a few blurbs here every now and then.

Good luck!

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