Nanowrimo 2010: You Can Do It!

It’s that time again! Are you going to go for it this year? Come on – you know you want to!

Have you got what it takes to write a novel in a month? Seriously! A whole novel in a month?!

For those of you who have never heard of Nanowrimo, let me explain:

The word Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it takes place every November. I’ve never been much for contests, but if you love writing, you don’t want to miss it. It’s the coolest writing contest I have ever seen.

Here’s how it works: starting November 1, you begin writing a novel – from scratch. You can have outlines, research, and sources if you want them (many don’t even start with those), but otherwise you’re starting from nothing. Then, for thirty days, you write like mad. Like MAD! The object of the contest is to reach 50.000 words before midnight Nov 30. If you make it, you win! Simple as that. You write 50,000 words between Nov 1 and Nov 30, you win. You don’t have to finish your novel, you don’t have to even “start” your novel, and you certainly don’t have to redraft your novel. Just write, and write like crazy. If you can start and finish your story, great, but it’s not required in order to win.

So, if there’s no judge and no competition with other writers, how can you call it a contest? Well, for starters, you are certainly competing: you’re competing against all your inhibitions (and believe me, they fight hard!), and all your insecurities, and all the things in your life that try to tear you away from writing. And second, you are still held accountable to other Nano writers. Your story is never posted anywhere, but every day (or week, or whatever you want), you copy the full text of your novel into a little box on the Nanowrimo site, which calculates your word count and tracks your word count progress. It doesn’t keep the actual words. In fact there’s no way to save your work on the site. So obviously there is a lot of self-accountability for your work. The system would have no idea if you had the same sentence pasted over and over. But this is not about the site. It’s about you. Can you do it? Will you do it?

If you’ve never done Nanowrimo, you’re probably thinking, “What? Abandon my family, friends, and responsibilities for a whole month just to write a novel?”

That was one of my concerns last year when I decided to do it. But actually, it was all the unimportant things that suffered. I only checked my email, blogs, and Facebook a couple times a week (and even those couple times were used as diversions when I’d start dozing off while writing), and I always did worked on it after the kids went to bed. In fact, it was usually after my wife went to bed. I probably got an hour less sleep every night, but it was only for a month, and the feeling of having pulled it off at the end of thirty days was absolutely exhilarating!

Another thing to keep in mind if you do it – don’t worry about the quality of the writing. DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE QUALITY!!! You have all of December, January, February, etc to worry about that – if you even think it’s salvageable. Just write and write and write. November is strictly about quantity.

If you’ve been looking for an excuse to write that story that’s been dancing around in your head – this is it. If the thought of writing 50,000 words in a month scares the living daylights out of you, then I encourage you to just try it. I fell in love with it quickly – so much so that at the deadline, I was at 63,000 words, and a week later, I completed my 70,000 word rough draft. I can tell you, if you’ve gotten used to writing somewhere between 1,500 words and 3,000 words a day, 7,000 words in a week is nothing.

So are you going to do it? Are you going to live off a keyboard and stay-awake snacks for a month in order to fulfill a dream you’ve always had? Come on, you know you want to!

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