Next month is November, and that means NaNo! For those of you who are not familiar, that’s the National Novel Writing Month. It should really be called the International Novel Writing Month these days, but that wouldn’t be as catchy and people who’ve been talking about NaNo for years would get confused.

The idea is to write 50,000 words in November. That averages out at about 1,600 words per day. Of course, commercial novels are actually 80,000 to 100,000 words long and a first draft is not a finished novel, but it’s still a really good challenge to set yourself, very satisfying to complete, and can be a useful way to kickstart your writing, or to build up a good chunk of first draft to start working on.

There is a NaNo website where you can input each day’s word total and view your progress in a bar chart, watch inspirational videos, collect badges for interim achievements, build a network of online writers, and connect with regional groups who run writing sessions in places like coffee shops in your area, where you can get to meet other writers in the real world. The website is here: NaNoWriMo.

I’ve participated a few times and sometimes I ‘win’ (as they call it) and sometimes I fail to make 50,000 words, but I always end up with a lot more words written then I would have had if I hadn’t done it. November is a good month for me to get things done. It’s dark and cold so staying in is easy, the kids are at school all month and the Christmas preparation madness has not yet begun. Last year I wrote about half of the first draft of the novel I’m currently working on. I’m still redrafting and editing that one, though, so I won’t have time to do NaNo this year.

At that pace, nobody is going to end up with polished prose. The secret to keeping on building up those high word counts is to shut down your inner editor, and just let words spew out of you. It also helps to have lots of ideas and a plan of how you are going to present them before you start.

So that’s what October is for: to sign up, announce your novel, and start getting your ideas together so you can get a flying start on November 1st!

Those planning to take on the challenge this year, I salute you and I’m a bit envious of you, too.


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