National Novel Writing Month !

I bet you are a person who likes adventure. If this is you. I have a great challenge that you can do in one month. You can push yourself hard, and at the end of it, feel a tremendous amount of joy and confidence. So if this is you. Keep reading!

November is National Novel Writing Month. It is put on by the Non-Profit Nanowrimo. The goal is to spend the entire month writing, and at the end of the month, you have 50,000 words and have written a novel.

 I have completed Nanowrimo four years in a row. This year will be my fifth. I made the decision to take the month off, but this week as the emails began to come in. These emails were from the organization talking about the upcoming event. I decided I wanted to do it. I am going to share with you my system on how I have completed Nano four years in a row and my goal for the fifth.

Below is my cut and dry system to finish NANOWRIMO, it is designed for you to have fun, and to manage the feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed.

Number One- No excuses. I have a full-time job, a very great full-time job, I supervise and manage people, I have a wife and a child, and it’s the holidays. If I can do it, you can do it.

Number Two- Create a system that works for you. I am not going to give any motivational speeches, this is a down and dirty method that will get you to 50,000 words. If you are attached to authenticity, finding your why, or feeling good, stop reading.

Number Three- Embrace the Grind- If you want to put your money where your mouth is, or implement all the TED talks, you have seen. All the advice you have got from all the courses you have taken, then this is for you- This is for people who want to get in the ring, get dirty.

Number Four- SHUN THE NON-BELIEVERS– Seth says it better than me. Don’t read any garbage online from people who say nano isn’t really writing, you can’t write a novel in a month. For all of the nay-sayers- Listen to the words of Dwanye Johnson

This is the spirit of NANO I want you to embrace- From Theodore Roosevelt.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Teddy Roosevelt

Second, read this article on shipping from Seth Godin-

Number Five- Write in the community! Nano has virtual write-ins on youtube, facebook, and twitter. You can also sign up in your own region and go to live writing events.

Here is my approach to daily writing. 

First, you are not writing the great American Novel in 30 days. You are writing 50,000 words in thirty days.

Step one- Do the math- 50,000 words divided by 30 is 1667. That is how many words you need to write a day.

Second, do this exercise-

Pull out your phone and open up the stop-watch. Hit start and start writing. See how long it takes you to type 1667 words. That number is how long you need to devote to writing each day. My first year it was 45 minutes.

Step 2, and this is the most important. Do not stop writing. Do not edit, Do not spell-check. Do not pause. Write straight through. Remember, the goal is 50,000 words. Anything on paper counts. For example, you may say negative things to yourself. Don’t stare at your computer screen bemoaning. Put those negative words on paper! You may say it doesn’t fit the story. That doesn’t matter. MAKE IT FIT!! There are many days where I just rambled incoherently, but guess what at the end of the day I had 1667 words, and at the end of the month, I had over 50,000.

 This is where NANO gets fun, when you go to write in’s they have prompts for you, for example, they will say in the next paragraph, kill a character. Then you just randomly whack a character. Go to a coffee shop, look at the couple in the corner, and write about them. Get creative. Ask questions.

 If you have an inner critic, give the critic a name and allow the critic to monologue all the dread and fear that you have. Guess what, you will have words.

Remember, the only goal is 50,000 words, 1667 a day. That is first and foremost.

 If you have 50,000 words on paper, you can spend an entire YEAR spell checking, line editing, etc., or you can pay someone to do it for you.

 In fact, that is what professionals do. Do you really believe Hemingway turned in perfect manuscripts? If he did, the profession of editor wouldn’t exist. We have editors because writers are creative people with big ideas. Editors are people who have mastered the English Language, they help the writer make the ideas accessible to the population. So relax. Why give yourself two jobs? I am a creator. I am not an editor. I am a peace with this. I have a great friend from childhood who is an awesome editor. My plan is to send him my work. You can find editors on fiverr. So now you are free. You have only one job. To create.

Remember you will have a rough draft at the end of the month, and you can work with it. You can’t edit a blank page.

Do this every day for 30 days.

 Two things – 1667 words. Write straight through.

Next- If you miss a day. Simply double your word count for the next day. NO DRAMA!! Don’t go on message boards, saying you are overwhelmed, you are tired, you need to treat your inner child with tenderness. NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR IT!! Instead, put it all on paper!! Create a character in your story who will speak all of these words. If you do this, guess what your word count will increase!

In addition- Write your way into a joyful mood, don’t wait for a joyful mood to come. Each day sit down and start writing. There will be days you feel like dirt, you will want to quit, you will want to whine and cry, and you will think it is legitimate and valid. Guess what if it is on paper, coming out of the mouth of a character it is valid. If it is in your head, it’s whining, and excuse-making. So simply type.

Now that will get you done on time, but what is really fun is participating in a community. When you go to the Nanowrimo site, you can sign up to write in’s both in-person and online. The great thing about Nano is that there are events all over the world.

I had a blast going to write in’s. They are very interactive, and you can increase your word count by attending them. For example, I am going to a progressive writing crawl this weekend. It involves writing in three different shops, throughout the day in the area. The virtual write-ins are fun, as well. If you want to up your social game, then head over to twitter, facebook, and instagram, and they have lots of writing going on throughout the day.

 Everything is tracked online, and once you finish, you verify your work, you get a certificate. You can order a winner’s T-shirt. You can order your shirt at the beginning of the month, and that way you can push yourself.

Nanowrimo is a fun experience. This year I am going to be very intentional. Here is my personal challenge. I want to create my 50,000-word rough draft, and then spend the rest of 2020 preparing that draft to publish.

If you want to push yourself and have a blast writing. Then sign up and do Nanowrimo. You will love it and be proud of yourself.

If you are a person who loves challenges, fun, and risk, then this is for you. Remember 50,000 words is the goal, 1667 a day, figure out how long it takes to do this. Get ahead. That way, when Thanksgiving comes, you can take a day off and not get behind.

At the end of all of this, you will have a rough draft of a novel, you will have connected with new people, you will have pushed yourself. You will have had fun!

So how about it? You know you want to write a novel. What about a memoir? Self Help Book? A biography? The best time is now! Head over to the NANO website. Sign up and on November 1. Start Writing. Looking forward to hearing about your story!

2 thoughts on “National Novel Writing Month !

  1. Just what I needed to read. Although I did laugh out loud when I read this:
    If you are attached to authenticity, finding your why, or feeling good, stop reading.
    I do value these things, but I kept reading because I can still believe in these but as you say, not be attached to them to the point that it detracts from the goal. Which is about words on paper!
    Really helpful advice in this article and I love the no-nonsense tone throughout, as well as the humorous additions like:
    Don’t go on message boards, saying you are overwhelmed, you are tired, you need to treat your inner child with tenderness. NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR IT!!
    Ha, love it!
    So, here’s to 50,000 words. Thanks Steven for the nudge.

  2. This part cracked me up, “…you need to treat your inner child with tenderness. NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR IT!!” LOL

    Steven, I love your passion for Nano…it shone through in your post. If I were considering doing it, I would definitely be better-prepared after reading your post, because I would realize that I’m not going to be able to make the “perfect” novel that I’d want to in one month. You helped frame the expectations nicely.

    So the only thing I wondered was…
    It’s clear that if you’re doing Nano to have some fun, challenge yourself, and connect with others, your approach will work beautifully. BUT, what if I’m going into Nano with a very specific book in mind that I want to write during the month. How can I approach the month if I don’t want to just go killing off characters and rambling on from time-to-time? Is it even possible?

    Best wishes for your 5th writing adventure! Can’t wait to read the finished product!

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