National Novel Writing Month: Not For the Faint-of-Heart

Today is my second favorite holiday of the year, but instead of popping in vampire fangs (my go-to costume), this Halloween season I’ve been focused on prep work for my National Novel Writing Month project which begins (gulp) tomorrow,  November 1.

Some of you reading this post know that in the past I have not been a huge fan of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo is the somewhat cumbersome acronym). I’m still not 100% sold on it. My big problem is I still think it’s misleading to let new writers believe they’re capable of writing a publishable manuscript in 30 days. (And yes, I’m sure someone has. But they are FAR from the norm.)

But I do believe it’s possible to write a lousy first draft in 30 days.

This is largely because I’ve changed my thinking on one particular notion. I’ve previously argued that you can’t force yourself to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve decided that I’ve been wrong about this.  I’ve been waiting years for the conditions to be perfect to write a novel. Waiting on the perfect timing, the perfect idea, the perfect characters. If I keep waiting, well, we know the sad end to that story. Actually, no, there will be no end, because there will be no story. No plot. No characters. Certainly no HEA (that’s romance writer speak for Happily Ever After).

So when a writing buddy of mine (the talented writer, Christine Clemetson), asked me if I was planning to take part in NaNoWriMo this year, I took a deep breath and jumped in.

I’m going to try really freaking hard not to overthink and psyche myself out like I usually do by thinking my outline isn’t the right format, or the plot isn’t fully developed, or that someone else has already written the story (Which someone probably has. Newsflash: There are no new stories. I just have to deal with writing my own version.)

I’m also going to have to force myself to keep writing even when my reporter-on-a-deadline mindset keeps popping in with its “no, no you have to edit this NOW” mantra. (Editing as you write is a necessity when you have a press deadline. It’s a death sentence for a novelist.)

So armed with character sketches, a list of scenes, a rough story arc, a detailed time management plan, and an abundance of coffee, I think I’m about ready to head in full force.

Look for an update from me here at least a couple of times in the next 30 days. The accountability aspect of NaNoWriMo is one of the things I like about the process.

And many thanks to my husband and youngest son, who will witness the full changes to my usually sparkling personality that may take place between now and December 1.

If you’re curious about NaNoWriMo, you still have almost six hours to sign up and write your own lousy first draft, at .