November is National Novel Writing month. Did you know that?
I want to encourage people who are thinking of doing NANO to do it. It's described as "a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30... for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel." (more on the NANO website) And I will add - or writing anything, and meeting others who are doing the same. I've been contacted by a few writing friends who are hesitant so I want anyone else out there to know:
THERE IS ZERO DOWN SIDEThis is a luxury - a GIFT you give to yourself - a whole month where you just make time to write - you will benefit greatly from nothing but support for 30 days. No one holds you accountable, there are no task masters, no shame of dropping out, & no need to reach 50,000 words. It is about having a rare, FREE opportunity to get encouragement, support, & be mega-fed and inspired from the energy of friendly others who love what you love too. Let me dispel a few myths and fears: 1. IT'S FUN
2. You don't need to be writing a novel. I have always been a rebel, so I just came to meet other like minded people, enjoy finding different coffee shops and libraries, and write something rather than thinking about it. Seven yrs ago I began doing snippets of memories, essays, honed ideas for short stories. Who can tell you any of that is not good? The first two years I did about 15,000 words and that was awesome. Why? Because it was 1500 words more than I started with!! The third year, I finally had an idea. That made it a whole different ball game. I easily blasted to 50,000, ditto the next year. And the final year I finished my first draft. I don't have time to write on it the rest of the year, so I'm on my own time clock -- and you can be too. 3. You do not need to do 50,000 words. That is an encouraged goal and part of the fun. It helps you to aspire. But you should NOT, hear me, NOT use it to discourage yourself. ANY new words, any time writing, plotting, developing characters, etc is valuable. If you write 5,000 words it's more than you had before. YOU WIN no matter what. 4. What is life about if you don't freaking TRY things? What are you waiting for? Afraid of? US??? We eat pizza and have tea and are nothing but friendly and cheer each other on. Where you going to find better than that in the world? And yes, there is also chocolate (at least at our live write-ins). And you will make friends, and learn of good books, articles, advice, etc along the way if you attend them - though I know many people try to do this on their own. Whatever works for you. You will GROW. And I predict you'll FEEL DAMN PROUD of yourself about that.
5. Whatever stage you're at, it's GREAT! For newbies, this can be about testing the waters if you've thought about it in the most conducive, supportive, safe environment around. No one will die in 30 days for you to check that out so you can go to your grave knowing you actually did it. For dreamers, this is about realizing it and seeing how it feels. This can be how you explore what it's like to be a writer - where you find the way to MAKE time each day for it to see how that feels. For those who've been writing seriously, this IS a concentrated time to be uber-productive and kick- start, jam on or finish your project. 6. You do not have to write every day - but it's a good Idea to try. After all, this is a month just for you, and you may want to see how it feels to realize that you DO have a little time in every day for it (which really does make you feel like a superhero inside). But, sometimes life happens, and there is NO self-flagellation allowed. Just write the next day or the next. Some people do jam and write a lot on weekends, or on one free day, to cover themselves if there is a wedding or to get around Thanksgiving... whatever works. 7. To get to 50,000 words in 30 days, you write about 1667 words a day. Now more people around the world are reading this, when I wrote this initially for my own regional group - so I don't know how yours runs, but locally, our ML's hubby makes us a little map where you essentially get a gold star every 5000 words. You will be AMAZED at how important and motivating that is to you. Even more so than the word chart on your personal NANO page. And by the way, sometimes I just write 250 a day. It's ALL GOOD. I see that now they are doing this as a badge system on the NANO site itself. More on getting registered on the NANO site below. 8. YOU ARE NOT TOO BUSY: Yes, thanksgiving is in Nov. We all are super busy every month. But we can do this. In advance I tell my friends and fam that for just this month, I will be likely turning down extras like seeing movies, shopping for nothing, going out for wine for the millionth time, etc. Ask the kids to do the wash this week, the dishes one night, order dinner in every Tuesday night so you can go to a write in, whatever it takes. See how it feels to make writing -- and yourself, your dreams, your goals - the priority for just 30 days.
All you need to do is carve out 45 minutes a day. Or two 15 minute chunks. Or a few hours every few days, where you can jam on it. Do you write best getting up fresh with coffee or tea while the house is sleeping? Are you a night owl who can let the others turn in while you go to your special writing nook and let it flow? DO IT THIS MONTH! Put a sign on your door at home DAD/MOM is WRITING, NO interruptions please (unless it's a 4 alarm emergency). If you know you can't do it on your own, then go find where we are on the NANO calendar and just get your ass in there, or come here and post what's going on and what you need. 9. Yes, you can drop out at any time. Hope you won't but no one is going to box your ears. The point is to start, take the first step, and then the next will appear. Got nothing unless you at least begin. 10. IT'S FUN!!! Enjoy the people, the process, the commitment, the challenge, meet writing friends, talk books, exchange resources, eat yummy snacks.
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF IT:
* Set up your personal page by (or even ON) November 1 and you're set. We have fun beginning here at midnight to write a few words so join us! If you're pumped, do it now! It takes only minutes. Make up a NANO name, put in a working title, describe a little or put in an excerpt (the first few years I left these blank - it's OK), and explore the site a little. Come here with questions if confused. * Look at the calendar where there are live meet ups on our region's home page:
NANO has their own FB page as well. CLICK HERE
The most important is the little calendar of live meet ups on our home page (see screen shot in comments below). Right below it, are our conversation threads. You can participate here as much or as little as you like. Bottom line, if nothing more, this is where you will put in your word count - and it's JUST FOR YOU. I can't describe how satisfying it is - and how self-inspiring - to put in the number of words you wrote each session and watch the line on your personal graphic rise. Mark my words - do whatever works from the above and by you WILL end up having written -- and you will marvel at your bad self.
Get your cape ready! And let's do this!!