National Novel Writing Month
If you have ever participated in the NaNoWriMo annual 30-day writing marathon, you already know what it’s like. You understand its magnitude, and you’ve probably made the decision to do it again. It’s an addictive event. It hurdles the writer’s block and kick-starts your creativity because it’s all about the first draft. No one expects you to turn out a polished manuscript. You just keep writing. and writing. and writing.
The NaNo organization has built a terrific website with incentives, forums, encouraging blog articles, writing buddy networks, local groups, achievement badges and accountability charts that will inspire you to frantic efforts or despair. Or, if you are doing well, they might make you feel a little smug. (Watch out for that.) You even get a gold halo for your profile picture if you make a donation.
I just read an article by KM Weiland: 6 Tasks You’ll Love Yourself for Checking Off Your NaNo Pre-Writing List. KM Weiland is a gifted teacher. Everything she writes is worth reading and applying. Everything. I have scanned the article and pinned it to study again when I have time to prepare for NaNoWriMo. It looks amazing.
Side Note: I like outlines, timelines, and elaborate MS Office Excel spreadsheets, so my favorite KM Weiland books are Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel, each with their accompanying workbook. For NaNoWriMo, though, I re-read Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration: Learn to Nurture a Lifestyle of Creativity. The Kindle version costs $2.99 and is worth at least fifty dollars. That’s about how much money I spend on coffee in November, and the book is more energizing than the coffee. Not kidding.
As I read that article and others, I came up with my own list. It’s a practical, commonsense list of things that need to be done before November 1 if you plan to write 50,000 words and “win” National Novel Writing Month.
6 Tasks You Really Need to Accomplish Before starting NaNoWriMo
- On October 31 – Halloween – turn off your porch light at 8pm and lock the doors so you can get to bed early. The neighborhood kids don’t need any more candy anyhow. (If your own kids are still out trick-or-treating, make sure they have a house key.)
- Make a big grocery shopping trip. Be sure to buy coffee, soda, frozen pizza, peanut butter and jelly, canned soup, frozen meals that can be microwaved in five minutes or less, cereal and milk, granola bars and toilet paper. (You can also eat the Halloween candy you didn’t give out.)
- Take care of the winter chores. Put the snow tires on the car. Put in the storm windows. Hire a lawn service (or your kids, if you have any) to mow the grass, rake the leaves and shovel the sidewalks as necessary for the month of November.
- Announce to your family that you will not be hosting Thanksgiving this year. If you can’t get out of it, remember that Pizza Hut and Dominos both deliver. If the family insists on something more formal, your local grocery store or restaurant probably has a packaged “turkey dinner for twenty” that you can buy already prepared. Or – if you are on track with your writing quota – you could take a break and go out to eat. Make reservations, so you don’t waste time waiting for a table to open up.
- Check your calendar and plan ahead. Clear your calendar as much as possible. If there are important birthdays, anniversaries, parent-teacher conferences or other events in November, reschedule them. It’s best to go ahead and take care of them in October, so you don’t forget later. Call your mother and anyone else who might start worrying about you if you disappear for a month.
- Finish your Christmas shopping and mail your Christmas cards by October 31.
You can also use a dedicated computer that is NOT connected to the internet, hire a housekeeper, retreat to a quiet cabin or noisy coffee shop according to your temperament, hide your cell phone… It can be a challenge to write 1667 words every single day or catch up if you fall behind. If you have a day job or family – and hope to still have them on December 1 – it will be even more challenging! Double kudos!!
The anticipation is growing. I’ve warned my husband, and I’ve cleared my calendar. I have an idea and will be mapping out the plot and character details as soon as I finish my (online) Christmas shopping.
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