Write a novel!

NaNoWriMo starts Saturday!

What is NaNoWriMo? It’s National Novel Writing Month, where a community of creative folks all get down with their pens and paper, their laptops, their typewriters, or in the case of Christopher Paolini, their quills and parchment. The goal is to write 50,000 words in the month of November. That’s the standard length of a novella. Plenty of authors have gone on to turn their NaNos into published books.

tea and writing!

Last year’s NaNoWriMo scene

But I’m not a writer, you protest. Nonsense. I believe each and every human has the ability to be a storyteller. It’s what kept us going back in our cavemen days, as we huddled around the fire. It’s what keeps us going now, from the time we’re babies and soothed to sleep by fairytales. Every day is a story.

What should you write? Anything. Everything. Finally pen your memoirs. Or make up a fan fiction of your own life, where you’re a super hero (or villain) and how you’ll change the world. Write what makes you happy, write the book you’d want to read.

I’ve done NaNoWriMo three times now. The first two, I did while in college, among writing papers and tracking down people for interviews in my journalism articles. The third, I did last year, when I was working 50 hours or so in the city. I’d type out my daily word count on the screen of my phone.

NaNoWriMo is all about getting your story out. For once, it’s actually about quantity over quality. So go ahead and spew whatever rubbish comes to mind. By the end, you might see a diamond twinkling amid all those words. Or at least, a bit of carbon that with some high pressure and heat (or just a lot of editing) you can turn into a diamond. And I think you’ll be proud either way. You did just spend a month on it.

My tips for NaNo 

  • Make use of the forums! The forums are full of ideas for when you get stuck, challenges to get your creativity revving again, and word count sprints so you can reach that sweet 50k. One of my favorite challenges was to use the word pamplemousse in my story, which is French for grapefruit. Random, but fun!
  • Don’t go back and edit! Especially if you’re behind on your word count. Just plunge bravely forward. Imagine you’ll turn into a pillar of salt if you look back, like Lot’s wife
  • Write Or Die. This site is perfect for getting your words up. It doles out the tough love by erasing your words if you take too long to type
  • Writing meet-ups! Each region has its own board on the forums, full of people in your area who will be there to be your comrades in this mighty battle. Go to the nearest cafe, load up on the caffeine, and get typing.
  • Turn it into your daily routine. Try to write as soon as you wake up and have your coffee. Apparently, science says that we are most productive in the two hours after we wake up, which is usually the time we’re checking our emails, or idly scrolling through gossip sites. Don’t do that.

So, do you think you’re up for NaNoWriMo? For me, it takes now about an hour to reach my daily amount of words, which is about 1,667 if you want to finish on time. An hour! That’s like, one less hour that you watch cruddy television or stare at your toes, or I don’t know what.

Try it! If I could manage it on the busy trains of Metro North, then I have the utmost faith in you.

Love always,

PS, I always feel like the first day is the hardest. I mean, it’s the day AFTER Halloween. But I still believe we can do it! Even if we are typing while wearing the smudges of last night’s costumes on our faces and our stomachs all grumbly from too much candy.

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