November is National Novel Writing Month

November is National Writing Month. NaNoWriMo, as it is called, is a non-profit organization that encourages people to write a 50,000-word novel in one month. Obviously, the month chosen by the organization is November. Thousands of people through-out the world hunker down and spend each day trying to write their 1667 words (the number of words you have to write each day to reach your 50,000-word goal) down on paper or into their lap top’s word processing program.

I plan to “compete” this year. The term “competing” is a bit of a misnomer. A writer really isn’t competing against anyone (except perhaps her own procrastination.) There are no prizes awarded. A writer is declared a “winner” if she has reached the 40,000 word mark or above. There are rules but no one checks to see if you follow them. Like Yoda says, you “do or do not” and ultimately hold yourself accountable.  If you sign up on their website the organization offers plenty of advice, moral support and can even hook you up with writers and events in your area.

A friend of mine once told me she doesn’t need a gimmick to get her writing done. Neither do I. If you know me, you know I am an extremely motivated and focused writer. I have a daily word count (1500) and rarely miss it. But even with all that, I find that sometimes it can be weeks, or even months, to get back to a project. Sometimes I decide to give a project that hasn’t quite been working “a rest” and that “rest” becomes a near death. I get side-tracked by a new project, by the business of writing—such as submissions—or my “real life” intrudes and I have to spend time of my job or family. I can’t tell you the number of times I opened a document, thinking I had only stepped away for a week or so, only to discover it has been a month or more. NaNoWriMo puts me back on track.

Sometimes, I do NaNoWriMo exactly by the rules. All I do is planning prior to November 1st. I spend many hours in September and October meticulously outlining and researching my new novel. Other times, like this year, I cheat and jump start a novel in progress. That is what I am doing this year. Last spring, I started a young adult novel tentatively called The Queen of Alta. The novel stalled when I spent the spring assisting in my mother’s healthcare and the summer editing revising my novel Diamond City in preparation for an agent search in the fall. That novel is done and I have started to query agents. It is time to return to The Queen of Alta. I am about 25,000 words in. I plan to take October outlining the rest of the novel and, starting November 1st I will dive in and finish the first draft. So, technically, I will not be a winner, even if I do finish my novel, because I didn’t follow the rules. However, if on December 1st if have the first draft of my novel I am definitely a winner.

Here’s the website to see more about NaNoWriMo and sign up.

Please feel free to email me if you need a writing buddy!

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