Yes, in writerly circles, November 1st marks the advent of NaNoWriMo— National Novel Writing Month. In short, those who sign up (I believe you can still sign up today) pledge to attempt to write 50,000 words in the month of November.
I’m not sure why November was chosen as opposed to say, August, when there are no Holidays and people are expected to go to parties and shop for the holiday season of their choice…but that wasn’t up to me.
My handle on NaNo (as it is affectionately called) is Princess Alethea. I will also be tweeting some of my progress and writing sprints under the #NaNoWriMo hashtag.
I have participated in NaNoWriMo every year since 2005, and I have yet to get to 50,000 words. But I still participate every year, and I am still proud when I look at my word count come December 1st.
Now, there are all sorts of theories about how NaNoWriMo should work. Like writing, THERE IS NO ONE WAY TO DO IT. Should you try to write 50,000 words this month? Absolutely. Should you commit seppuku if you do not achieve this goal? Of course not.The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to teach you to find that elusive BUTT in CHAIR state, and get used to it. In the month of November, you will feel what is like to be a full-time writer. If writing is your goal, these are good habits to have. If you are already a writer, these are good habits to remember. This is why I sign up and play the game, every single year.
PLANNING: A lot of folks plan what they’re doing for NaNo prior to the month. They have an outline and a writing space and time in their schedule.
I hate these people.
I usually have a general idea of what project I want to work on going into November, but that’s about it. This year, I got a second dayjob as a sub at an afterschool program. It sounds crazy (and is), but it also forced a routine into my schedule. I told the bookstore that I could work 9-2 on the weekdays, and assorted weekends. The days I had off at the afterschool program, or the bookstore, would just be writing time. Hooray! My days were going to go from up in the air all the time to a set schedule. I had PLANNED TIME for writing. I told the afterschool program that I could start on November 1st. This was PERFECT.
Apparently, Murphy (my guardian angel) heard the word “perfect” and slapped me down for it. One manager at the bookstore got spirited away to help open more bookstores, and the other manager got fed up with this situation and quit. Suddenly, instead of quietly slipping into a position of less responsibility, as of Saturday I will be the only acting Manager on the premises. Yeah. Oops.
SO you haven’t planned. So you have a wrench somewhere in the works. Who cares? I have a secret: your life will never be perfect, and you’re still going to have to find a way to shove the writing in between the cracks. Make this promise to yourself, just for this month, and see what you can do. I dare you.
CHEATING: Some people say that if you 1.) continue a novel already in progress, 2.) don’t finish your novel in 50,000 words or 3.) write “shark shark shark shark turtle shark” for 24 pages, you’re CHEATING. You know what? I don’t care about this either. Princess Alethea Mermaid’s rules say that if you write 50,000 words in November, whatever those words are, you’ve “won.” Of course, Princess Alethea thinks if you only write 24,000 words in that month, you have also “won.” I mean, come on. In what other month have you written 24,000 words? (Except you horrible prolific people. Just humor me here, okay? Don’t rub it in.
Go on, jump in the deep end! The water’s fine. We’ll be swimming/flailing/treading water right alongside you. Are you with me? xox