Tag Archives: National Novel Writing Month

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

NaNoWriMo, Who’s winning?

It’s day 20. By now you’ve written 33,336 words of your great American novel. You’re on the home stretch. You’re ahead by 3 words. You’re still in the race. You’re winning, right?

If you’re like me, probably not, although I know some writers participating in *NaNoWriMo this year have reached their goal of 50,000, or are really really close. But not you, you’re still slugging away at that mountain of words wondering why you let so and so talk you into this messy frustrating confusion when you’d rather be thinking about turkeys and Christmas trees. But you can’t because you have to stay focused on characters who won’t behave and plot lines that wander off into the desert and disappear. You’re tired, frustrated, and hate the project you’re working on. Or you’re behind in your word count and looking for any reason to stop writing and return to the real world.

Before you do, give yourself credit for attempting such a daunting task in the first place. Writing takes discipline. Writing every day takes a great deal of discipline. In a perfect writer’s world every morning you would rise to an already prepared healthy breakfast and a pot of coffee. You would write all day without distractions. You would retire at night with a ream of polished words, a real page-turner ready to meet your publisher. But in the real writer’s world you have to prepare the healthy breakfast, feed the pets and get the family off to work and out the door, maybe vacuum the rugs, or even put in a day’s work at the office before you can settle down and write. Squeezing enough time to generate 1,666 words a day is a chore in itself so why bother?

Because you’re a writer. Stories buzz around your head dying to be told. Because when you’re not writing, everything seems in a constant state of chaos.

If you’re stumped and ready to throw in the towel, here are some suggestions that may help you reach your NaNo goal this year.

Write from a different point of view. Or write in a different tense. Mixing it up might lend new energy to your writing.
Kill your internal editor. Now is the time to write. You can edit later.
Do some free writing if you can’t think of anything to write. Just the action of moving your fingers releases something in the brain allowing you to move forward.
Don’t stop to do research. Add asterisks. When your draft is done, you can fill in the blanks. And, you might discover that a date or fact you thought was important no longer is.
If you’re feeling low or depressed talk to other writers or read the pep talks provided on the NaNoWriMo website. Visit their “procrastination station” for inspiration.
Don’t delete, don’t edit, just keep writing.

So it’s November 20. Ten days to go. You’re 2,000 words behind. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and it’s easier to focus on the green bean casserole than keep your fingers and brain moving. But look how far you’ve come. You’re in the middle of your book where things usually tend to get messy anyway. It would be so easy to quit.

But instead of giving up, dig deeper. Time travel back to October when NaNo sounded like a great way to whip out a draft of your story. Capture some of that creative energy then sit down and start writing.

Because you can do it. You’re so close. You’re almost there.

-Bonnie Dodge

*NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. On November 1, participants begin working towards writing a 50,000 novel by 11:59 on November 30. It’s free and a fun way to write a novel. For more information visit NaNoWriMo.org.


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Filed under Archives 2013, Question of the Month, Writing

Make that novel happen this month

Today is the start of National Novel Writing Month and the challenge is to write a novel within the month of November. It’s a fantastic way to get that idea that’s been rumbling around your head onto paper. You just charge ahead every day and at the end of November, you have a great start. It’s fun and free. So what are you waiting for.


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Filed under Archives 2010, Writing