It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

No, not that one.

Though I’m seeing far too many Christmas trees for my liking…

No; starting tomorrow, NaNoWriMo beings anew. For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it’s every November. Basically, you get 30 days to write a 50,000-word novel.

That’s it. It’s that simple, and that daunting, all at once.

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo (heretofore referred to as NaNo) every year since 2008, but I’ve only reached the 50,000-word goal three times (I did hit the mark in 2008, but I never finished that book, and we’ll just pretend it never existed). I also hit the 50,000-word mark in 2014 and 2015. But what became of those projects?

Well, you may have heard of them. I wrote Bounty in 2014 and Behind the Badge last year.

Some of NaNo’s naysayers are convinced there’s no way to write a brilliant, publishable book in just a month. And for the most part, I agree with them… but NaNo’s not about writing the best novel ever, first time through. No, it’s simply an exercise in putting words on a page, helping establish a habit of writing.

Basically, if you write an average of 1,667 words per day, every day, throughout November, you’ll reach the 50,000-word goal. It’s about how good the words are, or even what you do with those words once the calendar flips to December. It’s about putting the words on the page. It’s about writing for the sake of writing.

Some people do it for fun. Some use NaNo to tackle long-ignored projects. For others still, NaNo is simply affirmation of what they spend the rest of the year doing. For me, it’s a chance to knock out a first draft.

What I wrote in November 2014 and what’s currently available for sale are night and day. I wrote with reckless abandon in November… but I spent December through March editing, revising, re-writing… all of that stuff that tends to give us writers heartburn.

NaNo is an escape from all that. All that matters is getting words down.

Leave the editing and the hand-wringing and the self-doubt for December; starting tomorrow, those of us who participate in NaNo will feverishly peck at our keyboards, or scribble on our notepads, watching as the words mount and the word counts go up and up and up and up and…

Interrupt us at your own peril.

This year, I’ll be using NaNo to re-write — and finish — the first draft of my fantasy/supernatural epic Notna. What better way to finally get that project off the ground than the annual event that allowed me to push through two of my three currently-published novels?

You’d be surprised how many published novels began as NaNo projects. And quite frankly, I’m a fan of anything that fosters creativity, progress, community, and literacy. People who participate are writers and book lovers, and for the full experience, immersing yourself in a community of fellow NaNo’ers (there are locality-based groups abound; my group is amazing) is a must.

Ultimately, without NaNoWriMo, I’m not sure if I’m published right now. I’m a more productive, more polished, and more confident writer than I was before NaNo, and I look forward to November every year for just that reason.

To learn more about National Novel Writing Month, or to sign up, visit their website.

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