It’s that time of year again! Apples are in season (seriously, buy a bushel and bake something), the summer heat has finally broken, and the trees are starting to change colors.
It’s NaNoWriMo time, baby.
Coincidentally, November also happens to be the host to:
- No Shave November
- Look for Circles Day
- Housewife Day
- Have a Party with Your Bear Day
- National Parfait Day
There are also some actual, sanctioned holidays tucked in the month but whatever. For my purposes, in the realm of arbitrary celebrations, NaNoWriMo reigns above all the rest. For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is an event wherein you aim to write 50,000 words within the month of November. Each participant competes against them self in the end to make the end word count and earn the rank of Winner! The prize is that you wrote 50,000 words in a month. That’s it in a nutshell, really.
If this is the kind of thing that strikes your fancy, then it is up to you how far you’d like to get involved. NaNoWriMo can be done in full isolation with just you, your word count, and your sense of gratitude when you reach then end. You can sign up for free at the NaNoWriMo.org site for an account that will track your word count for others to see, and you can connect with other participants in your local area. There is swag to buy, you can receive weekly inspirational e-mails throughout the month and there are about a billion blog posts written about the topic of NaNoWriMo.
I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo several times without reaching 50,000 words. The furthest I got was about 35k. Most of the attempts petered out at about 10k, because Life Happens and I lose momentum. This year? I’m winning. My strategy?
Brutal, uncompromising accountability. And some actual planning.
First step: make it publicly known that I’m doing NaNoWriMo. I’m announcing it here on the blog and to my friends, with the encouragement for people to constantly ask me how I’m doing. I even found a cool little widget that I put on the side of this blog so I will be forced to see my word count each time I update throughout the month of November. At the very worst, I will be forced to feel intense shame 4 times next month.
Second step: Get involved with the local NaNo scene. I have joined up with the North AL NaNo people, and will be hosting two “write-ins” (events held for people to come and write in a friendly, less distracting environment) of my own.
Third step: Direction. Writers are encouraged to write anything for NaNoWriMo, so long as you are pushing a word count forward. This year I have a specific intent: to complete the first draft of a novel I have been faffing about with for too long. I will be armed with an outline and a general idea of what I want to write.
Fourth step: I have three different sealed boxes, each one filled with something that is relatively precious to me. These boxes will be offered to different friends and will be held until the end of November, where one of two scenarios will occur:
- I will complete 50,000 words and the boxes will be returned to me.
- I will not complete 50,000 words and the boxes will be thrown away.
… That looks a little more psychotic when it’s actually written out then my original intentions. I’m not packing up my cats or anything, but stuff I own that I either can’t easily replace, or would know that each time I looked at it that I had to buy it a second time.
I have been forced to admit that I do not hold to self-imposed deadlines. I lack discipline when it comes to hitting word counts, sending out stories, all the things that I need to take seriously if I want to have writing as a viable career. So now I’m throwing a new rule into the game to see if I can actually do this. I would like to both win NaNoWriMo at least once in my life and prove to myself that if I can write 50k in November then it can surely be done in other months as well.