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Thoughts on National Novel Writing Month


We're two days into National Novel Writing Month. As I write this, I'm 10k words into my novel and it feels good to finally be working on it after a month of prep work.

But how can NaNo help you?

Well, it can do a lot of things.

Personally, I think the two most important aspects of NaNo are the community you can find and the encouragement into a daily writing habit.

During November, writers seem to come out of the woodwork like termites. They're everywhere. Some of these writers are only NaNoers, though, and they're not going to help you maintain your habits through the year and be part of your regular community. But you're going to be going to write-ins at your local area, mixing with others who are dedicated to at least write one book. You'll find people you click with. You'll be on the forums and in the chatrooms, finding that tribe of people near you that you need.

I feel like all writers need that tribe of creative people who know exactly what their affliction is because they're equally infected.  NaNo is a great way to see who has the disease.

Then, it's in building a daily writing habit. And mileage varies on this. For me, writing every day is necessary for maintaining my moment and my sharpened edge. For others, writing every day is a drag and they need to recharge their batteries. If you know you're that kind of writer, then ignore this part. It wasn't until I'd done NaNo a lot that I realized that a daily habit would be the right course of action for me, but trying it out through NaNo was something I needed.

Today, thanks to the training wheels NaNo put on me, today is my 850th consecutive day of writing something. I've written well over a million words in that time, and more than a few books. I plan to write more. I want to keep going for the foreseeable future. But the value in NaNo for me was seeing that discipline in action. Now, I regularly do 50k words a month, spread across novels, short stories, columns, and the like. It's no sweat.

That's why I'm pushing myself to do 100k this month. I've come close this year before, but this month I'm dedicated. And I don't want to fall behind.

What can you do to help stay motivated?


  • Outline. Get yourself an idea about where you're going and write that out. Then go back to the beginning and take another pass, fleshing that outline out as you go.
  • Word Wars. With those other writers you've found in your community, in person, online, or wherever, compete. Set aside 15 minutes and see who can write the most words in that space of time. I guarantee that healthy competition is motivating.
  • Dedicate time and reward yourself for it. There is nothing more important to NaNo than dedicating the time to write. Hit your daily goal? Take yourself to lunch. Buy some chocolate. See a movie.
  • Plan for the future. If your book gets finished, you can actually query it (after heavy revisions, of course.) Think about who you might send your book to and how it might look bound.
  • Read. During NaNo, it's easy to focus so much on writing that you forget to read, but reading is what puts gas in your writing tank. Do it. Read lots.
  • Watch movies. Stories, in general, can help fill that writing tank. Consume stories.
I'd go on with that list, but I need to get back to my novel myself.

Good luck!


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Also! here's the full list of "rules and guidelines" I've been collecting over my years of studying writing advice and process. 

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