Monday, November 1, 2010


Today is November 1st, which, aside from being the day after Halloween (nobody stopped at our house to ask for candy), or the day before the election (go vote or I will hunt you down), or the day that the baseball season maybe ends (fear the beard), or the start of the month you gorge yourself on turkey and mashed potatoes (yum), or one less shopping day until Christmas (my internal rule is don't shove Christmas in front of me until Santa's float shows up at the Macy's Parade)... aside from all of that, it's the start of NaNoWriMo.

That's National Novel Writing Month.

Here's how it works: From now, through to the end of the month, the task of someone participating in NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000-word novel, generally regarded as the minimum length of a publication-worthy book. If you manage to get additional words out, great. Nobody's asking you to write a book that actually HAS a snowball's chance in hell of publication. I guarantee you the novel will suck. Don't worry about it. That's actually the point, to get you less afraid of writing something sucky. Don't think about what you're going to write. Just write. Just dive in and write 50,000 words, ANY 50,000 words, by the end of the month.

I've written manuscripts before. Plural. I've written some godawful crap in my day, some of it in the manuscripts. It's useful to get all that godawful crap committed to paper (or MS Word, or what have you). Nothing makes you a better writer than experience, than knowing where you're strong and where you're weak, where you need to improve.

The 50,000 words will still be there when December rolls around. There IS a snowball's chance that, if things fell right out of your keyboard, you may not have something worth publishing, but you might have something worth salvaging. When the month is over, when you have your 50,000 words out, go back, look at what you've written, and see if you can't start sprucing it up.

If you think you're up for it, head over to

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