It’s that time of the year again. It’s almost November and that means NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a writing challenge that takes place every November. The challenge sounds simple. Write a fifty-thousand-word novel in November. It starts at midnight on November first. It stops at eleven fifty-nine on November thirtieth.
When you look at the numbers, it’s scary. It’s all on the honor system though. I know it seems as though it’s impossible. I mean fifty-thousand words in thirty days? It seems impossible. I’ve ‘won’ it at least ten times. I pulled it off because I don’t think of it as fifty-thousand words in thirty days. I think of it as fifty thousand divided by thirty which is sixteen hundred sixty-seven words per day. I already write twelve hundred words a day in my journal. So I focus on the number of words I need to write in that day. Then it’s easy. Well, it’s easier.
It’s easier if you do the background work before hand. The rules allow you to do so. If you’re a pantser, go for it. If you’re a plotter, whip up an outline and go for it. I have a foot in both camps. When I have a basic roadmap, I start the characters off on their journey. But if they want to take charge in the middle of things, I let them. It helps.
I’m not about to tell you it’s easy. I find it fun and usually manage to finish the story around day twenty-five. That’s because I aim for two thousand words a day. It builds in a safety net. If I’m ahead of the game for the first ten days, I’m home free. Start with thinking that you need two thousand words and you often get them. Then as usual, the day comes when you can’t get sixteen hundred sixty-seven words, you won’t fall behind. It’s a mind set. If you want to win, you will likely do so.
There’s nothing at stake but bragging rights. If you make it, great. If not, there’s always next year. It is much easier if you don’t put too much pressure on yourself. There’s nothing wrong with trying and failing. In any case what you’ll end up with is a first draft. If it’s not a complete first draft, it’s farther along than you have had been if you hadn’t started. That’s the key. So what if you don’t finish until mid or late December? You’ll never finish if you don’t start. That’s the point of NaNoWriMo. It’s to get you started. If you finish in thirty days, great. If not, keep going until you do. Start and don’t stop until you finish.
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