National Novel Writing Month is Here

Tomorrow marks the beginning of NaNoWriMo. If you’ve been thinking about participating but you’re procrastinating, let me offer some advice based on my own experience.

First, if you’re unfamiliar with “Nano,” National Novel Writing Month is a fun, fast approach to novel writing. The goal is to finish 50,000 words in one month. That means beginning November 1 and ending midnight, November 30, you have 30 days to write 50,000 words. Whoa, that’s ambitious, and yes, it is doable. You can learn all about Nano here.

November is typically a busy month for me, but then, what month isn’t busy? With holidays and preparing for Christmas, who wants to add one more thing to the calendar? It’s daunting to commitment to writing 1666 words a day. But that’s how books get written, one word at a time.

I’ve participated in Nano several times, and here’s what I’ve learned. Nano taught me how to increase my word count on a consistent basis. Compare it to exercise. You have an hour to walk four miles. You have an hour to write one thousand words. Get ready, get set. Go. There is no time to stop and research. There is no time to look up misspelled words. There is no time to stare into the refrigerator or talk on the phone. There is only time to write.

I’m a little bit OCD and the perfectionist in me wants everything perfect before I write the next page of my story. Nano taught me to keep going, to type XXXX if I am stumped or lost. Nano taught me to ignore the misspelled words or the out of sequence scenes and to just keep writing. It becomes a form of free-writing that results in words to edit instead of a blank piece of paper staring back at me at the end of the day.

Nano taught me to kill Ms. Snarky Editor and banish Ms. Holy Perfectionist. They aren’t allowed into the room until December. By silencing them, I was able to complete my novel in thirty days. Yes, the manuscript was rough. Yes, there were plenty of misspelled words and lots of XXXs that needed to be addressed. But instead of having one chapter or half of a manuscript, I had a complete book ready for revision and edits. That book became Waiting, published by Booktrope this fall.

If you’re still procrastinating, or on the fence, why not give Nano a try? You might surprise yourself. You might actually write a book.

-Bonnie Dodge

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Filed under Archives 2014, NaNoWriMo

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