How to “win” NaNoWriMo

I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year, and aren’t you jealous?

No, it’s not a yodeling contest in Wisconsin. Sheesh. It stands for National Novel Writing Month, the month being November, and the challenge being to write 50,000 words in 30 days. That figures out to … let’s see … carry the–ah. 1,667 words per day, on the average.

Doesn’t sound like much … until you try it.

Personally, I would have chosen NaNoWriMo to be in January, which has an extra day, no holidays, and absolutely no reason to go outside. (What, New Year’s? Let’s face it: That holiday is actually on December 31st. After that a ball drops, you kiss someone through a mask, go home, and sleep late. Start writing at noon, and you’re good.)

But the advantage of November is that you can use the excuse to leap up as soon as the turkey is eaten on Thanksgiving. “Sorry, love catching up with the family but Uncle Bert has already started with the political insults and the football game will be boring–gotta go!” And you’re outta there.

 

 

If you’re a writer, you have the advantage of being too poor to go do anything else anyway, so why not give it a try? I won NaNoWriMo twice, so I can give you a few tips on how to make it through the month, which is intended to give wannabe writers a kick in the proverbial pants:

Have your story ready to go. Characters created, outlines done (if you’re an outliner), research … um, researched. You should be prepared to type the first line of the actual story at 12:01 a.m. November 1st. (Or 10 a.m., or whenever you start. Maybe you’ll need a Red Bull.)

Second, take care of personal matters. Have a talk with friends and family. Tell them why it’s important to you. Make sure they either support you, or your locks are changed. If there’s some TV show you can’t stand to miss, DVR it. Take care to stay hydrated and eat proper meals, and every once in awhile get up and make sure your legs still work. Hire someone to make the meals and do the dishes.

Oh, wait, you’re a writer–you can’t afford to hire anyone.

Third, clear your schedule. As much as possible, anything you need to do, have done in October. Doctor appointments, for instance. Or, delay it until December. Laundry, for instance.

In other words, free up as much time as possible, and use that time for writing first. Sure, if you cut a finger off you have to go to the hospital, but couldn’t you just bandage up an amputated toe for a few weeks? You don’t type with your toes.

Do you?

Once you get started writing, keep at it–don’t worry about typos or other problems, you can fix those in edits. Get your story down.

And your reward?

Well … you can get a t-shirt, if you’re willing to pay for it. Otherwise you’ll be left with a rough draft to be edited, and the satisfaction of knowing  you pounded out 50,000 words that are almost certainly better than infinite monkeys writing Shakespeare on typewriters.

Or so you hope.

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