NaNoWriMo a.k.a A Crazy Writer at Large month

  If you’re reading this blog you probably know already what NaNoWriMo is but let’s cover the basics anyway. Who knows? We can be sharing the word with a new, staring writer.

    NaNoWriMo (short of National Novel Writing Month) is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. You have 30 days to write 50,000 words – or otherwise said, to finish a novel. I’ve had quite a lot of discussions lately and some people see the end goal as reaching the 50K word-count no matter if you are finishing your novel or you’re in the middle of it(let’s be honest, some of us can’t fit in just 50,000 words); others believe the end goal of NaNo is to finish a novel by the end of the month.

   For me, NaNoWriMo is an excuse to give myself impossible targets and to prove myself that the only limitation of what I can do is my imagination. For me, NaNoWriMo is about commitment and responsibility.

   We are all writers, we all write often (or every day if you’re that good) but have you noticed that it usually goes really slow or really quick if you are suddenly visited by your Muse? Or maybe it is just me. Anyway, what is great about NaNoWriMo is that I know my deadline, I know the rules and I know what I need to do to succeed.

   For me, a person who works full time and has an unhealthy need to watch 30 TV shows at once, writing regularly is hard. So when NaNoWriMo comes I know that I need to suck it up and put everything on a backburner for 30 days. Obviously, that doesn’t include work – or at least my boss says so. So here is my battle plan:

  • 1. Make a plan for my novel (you pantsers can skip this step but when you don't have a plot prepared it is more difficult to make a regime)
  • 2. Get a calendar. I find that a physical one makes me more motivated since I like scratching the days and putting smiley faces where I have reached my goal. Electronic ones work too.
  • 3. Mark which days you have work (or some other engagement which you can't possibly postpone) and give yourself a smaller target for those. Even if it is 500 words, even if it is 100.
  • 4. Mark your days off too - and keep them as uneventful as possible. You'll need those extra hours. Then give yourself a target that is way out of your usual daily word count but still reachable. I started with 5,000 words. On a good day, I may even write 10,000 but my attention span is terrible and I am out of practice.
  • 5. Write. Ever. Day. I can't stress this enough. I've laughed at this statement, I snickered, I rolled my eyes and completely ignored it. Until one day I didn't and a few weeks later I was done with a book I was dragging my feed on for six months. Creating a habit of writing is maybe the most important tool in your writing arsenal. Writing when you're riding the inspiration train is awesome but the ride is short and you'll have to wait in line long (usually) to get on it again. Habit is like a fast pass to the front of the line.

    I’ve read a study recently that it takes around 66 days to create a habit. Like any other thing, the number varies according to the person but after scientists tested around 100 people most of them turned a regular activity into a habit for about 2 months. I know it sounds like a lot but in the end, it is worth it.

   It’s like creating abs – you need to train every day and put in the work so that eventually you’ll lift your shirt and see that flat, toned tummy and smirk with satisfaction. Imagine your book is abs. First, you work to get rid of the fat (writing the first draft). Then you work to make the stomach flat(first edit) and finally you work even more to tone your muscles and make those abs (final polishing).

  So use this NaNoWriMo to start this habit. NaNo is 30 days and I found it is easier to push myself to write every day during November. Extend this practice for December and why not January? You can lower the targets after November but keep the calendar. Put new goals, draw those smiley faces, and give yourself a thumbs down when you fail to write simply because you felt lazy. No more excuses, no more procrastinating. 

  I’m starting this today and I am positive that by the end of the year I’ll have another book ready and a habit of sitting down even if I don’t want to and writing. Allow yourself to write bad, to write slow or to write something that wouldn’t even go to the book. The act of writing is important even if it is not the masterpiece of the decade.  

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