nanowrimo is upon us

Sandy isn't the only thing descending upon us like a wet and windy uninvited guest. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo for short) kicks off on Thursday (okay, fine, it's not wet or windy or uninvited, but it's coming at us like an unstoppable force of nature so, it kinda works...?).

For writerly types, NaNo is the ultimate writing challenge: write a 50k word "novel" (unless you're writing MG or are on the short end of YA, 50k does not a novel make) without looking back. We're talking a full-on first draft pound-out (that wasn't meant to sound dirty...), completely ignoring your inner editor and just doing what it takes to reach the finish line. Some people use it as motivation to get out the first 50k of a longer novel, while others use it to write a 50k novel that will never see the light of day. Regardless of your purpose, it's good exercise for your writer brain and there's never any harm in at least attempting NaNo. It's one of those nothing to lose and everything to gain kind of things. Okay, full disclosure, you might lose your sanity. And possibly your dignity. But it's not like you can't pull yourself back from the edge if things get dicey.

Unfortunately, no, you can't just write "It was a dark and stormy night" 7142.9 times.

Oh, and NaNo is all about starting a brand new project. This is the tricky part (for me). In the past, I've semi-participated by working on novels I'd played around with before, but this year, I'm starting from scratch on a book I only have a very loose outline for. For me, that's very scary. First of all, my inner editor is like that mosquito buzzing in your ear when you're trying to sleep on a hot summer night at the cottage. You're sweating, uncomfortable, and you think you've finally swatted it away for good, but then there it is, pestering your ear hole like a zombie mosquito that just. won't. die. For me, the biggest challenge of NaNo isn't going to be plot, or pacing, or character development. It's going to writing without re-reading and tinkering with the words I've just laid down. It's going to be waiting until December to revisit what I've written and finally fix the mess I've made. But that's okay. A challenge is a challenge for a reason. And if I can come out the other end of November with 50k words, even if they need to be hacked, switched and polished come December, then at least I'm 50k words further along than I am now. And not only is that quite the accomplishment, it's significant progress on what will likely end up being a 65k word book.

I should add, even though you're supposed to start a brand new project, if NaNo is the motivation you need to pick up something old and run with it, just do it. Rules shmules, right? As I said, I've used NaNo as a time to work on existing projects in the past. The pep talks and motivational emails helped me to get a lot of writing done, even though I wasn't approaching NaNo in the traditional way. At the end of the day, I like to think of NaNo as a celebration of writing the crap out of something. Anything.

If you're interested in participating in this year's NaNo, everything you need to get started can be found at the official website here:

I haven't figured out how to add writing buddies on the site yet, but if you join and are looking for a writing buddy to cheer you along, let me know and we'll figure it out!