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Writing Advice: NaNoWriMo
Hey everyone! As we roll into the home stretch and (for US residents) most challenging week of NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d toss out a little advice for those of you straining to get to your 50,000 words by November 30.
First of all: congrats! Just trying this is something to be proud of. You’re taking steps toward getting your story written.
I think as you go through this month, it’s important to keep in mind what the value of NaNoWriMo is. It’s not that at the end of the month you’ll have a finished novel. It’s not even that you’ll have 50,000 words toward a novel. That’s your goal, but the real value of NaNoWriMo is to teach you that you can write the better part of a novel in a month (depending on what genre you’re writing and how long your novel ultimately ends up being) and to teach you the habit of writing every day, which is almost necessary to hitting that goal. You can skip a day or two, probably, or finish a day or two early if you get inspired, but the point is that you’ve had to write every day.
So what you should take away from NaNoWriMo is that you can do this anytime. It doesn’t have to be November for you to sit down and write 1,666.67 words a day. That’s maybe a big goal for you if you’re not a full time writer, but you did it for a month. What if you wanted to just do 1200 words, or 1000, or even 500? You could do that. A month is long enough to start a habit.
I don’t think it’s an accident that NaNoWriMo is set during maybe the second most disrupted month in the US. Thanksgiving week is a big, busy holiday time for many people (and a nice quiet time to get a lot of words in for others), and if you can navigate NaNoWriMo during that time, you can do it during the dull months when there aren’t week-long family holidays.
And keeping that in mind means that if you fall short, if you get to midnight on the 30th with only 49,980 words, or 45,000, or 40,000, you didn’t “fail” NaNoWriMo. You still wrote words, you thought about your story, and you picked up some writing habits. Carry those over into December and next year, and keep going with that story.
Good luck! You’ve got ten days left, and no matter how many words you’re up to now, make those ten days count. But leave room for turkey.
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