Woe! It’s Wednesday: Do you NaNo?

I’m deep in the throes of NaNoWriMo.

For those non-writers out there, that stands for National Novel Writing Month. It happens every November. Writers join NaNoWriMo for accountability and fellowship. They each vow to write 50,000 words in the month of November. That’s an average of 1,667 words a day. Not impossible at all. At the end of the month, you should end up with a short, rough, dirty, ugly first draft of a novel.

I’ve attempted NaNo five times in the past and completed it four times. I then spend the better part of the next year rewriting and polishing that ugly thing into something a bit more presentable and suitable for public viewing.

One of the benefits of NaNo is that it gets you in the habit of writing every day. Or on the days you skip, you’re still thinking about your story and letting it percolate, so when you sit down to do twice as many words the next day, they should flow. In theory.

Typically I start strong, right on track for the first week. The middle two weeks are hit and miss. I’m usually seriously behind by at least 15,000 words coming into the final week. Then I put my head down and my fingers on the keyboard and type until the I hit 50,000, usually around 10 PM on November 30th.

In the weeks before November 1, forums and blogs and the Twitterverse are full of people talking about the outlines they’re making, the character sketches they’re completing and how they’re sharpening their pencils in anticipation of NaNo.

I, on the other hand, open a new document on November 1 and start writing the story that’s been brewing in my head for the last couple of months.

I’m writing this post before Wednesday. It’s actually still November 1. I wrote 1802 words today.

Writers love NaNo because it gets us back on track if we’ve strayed from a disciplined writing schedule. I love this quote from Nora Roberts: “You don’t find time to write. You make time to write.” NaNo helps me make time to write. I don’t have publisher deadlines or other exterior motivation. It has to come from within. My critique group is one exterior motivation I rely on. NaNo is the other.

Non-writers are not quite so enthusiastic. This is a real conversation in my house earlier tonight:

Me: Do you know what day it is?

Stud Muffin: … um … the first day of the rest of my life?

Me: Besides that.

SM: … um … November 1st?

Me: Yes. And November 1st is …?

SM: {blank look}

Me: The first day of … NaNoWriMo!

Sm: Oh. NO!

Yes, it’s November. That means Veterans Day, Thanksgiving (in the US) and NaNoWriMo. It’s a good month.

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