The days are getting darker, colder. Evenings feature heavier meals and perhaps a dark fermented beverage to keep us warm. What better time to deprive ourselves of sleep and relaxation?
November is National Book Writing Month, a global challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. It is possible, but it takes sacrifice and determination. You must be willing to shirk your house cleaning duties and stock up on frozen pizza to cut down time wasted in the kitchen (you would just burn everything anyway because you’re distracted by your novel). You must be willing to either rise hours before dawn or stay up well after midnight to keep up the daily word count that will get you to 50,000 by midnight November 30, 2012.
I’ve participated twice in NaNoWriMo, each time falling short by a paltry 5,000 words. Usually, about two weeks in, I skip a few days of writing and never catch up. I may have a 3k word sprint, but once you fall behind it takes an incredible effort to catch up. Worst part? The word count is on the NaNoWriMo web site for all to see. That’s a lot of peer pressure.
The NaNo novels I’ve written have grown into full novels which aren’t half bad. It’s a great way to free up your inner critic and crank out some much-needed creativity. It’s amazing how much your writing improves once you stop agonizing over each word or phrase. NaNo dictates that you keep moving forward with your story instead of reaching backward to revise.
If you are serious about making a living as a writer, you already know that the best way to learn how to write your best is to write a lot. This is a skill that can only be developed by practice. Books and classes will only teach you the mechanics, but they won’t help you find your voice or personal writing style.
There are a lot of folks in the world with the opinion that NaNoWriMo is a lark for wanna-be authors, but there are so many more talented writers who embrace the challenge and see it for the benefits it offers:
- Imposing a daily word count goal forces you into a daily writing habit that continues beyond November.
- Writing quickly slays your inner critic so you can experiment, screw up and make mistakes…the best way to find your writing voice.
- And best of all, it builds your confidence as a writer. You will be able to see leaps in your ability to plot a novel length story, dig into a character’s personality and know that you really are a writer.
Check out the NaNoWriMo website and get yourself geared up for November 2012. NaNo founder, Chris Baty has great advice on surviving the month, while the forums offer support and a healthy dose of commiserating.
You can track my word count here, where I’ll post weekly survival updates, or on my NaNoWriMo page.
You should consider joining the madness and who knows, by December 1st you may be able to call yourself a novelist.