Sunday, November 01, 2009

Putting NaNoWriMo to Work for You - Even if You're Not Participating

November is national novel writing month, and for many people that means signing up over at the NaNo site and gearing up for the challenge, receiving pep talk emails and following the progress of your fellow writers online. The challenge has inspired many aspiring writers to push beyond their previously perceived limitations, but it's not for everyone.

I've discovered, however, that NaNo doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. For those who want to start a new novel from scratch and knock it out during go girl (or guy). I'm rooting for you. But if you don't think that's realistic, set your own goal and calculate your own pace and use the energy and buzz surrounding NaNo to help you keep your momentum going, whether that means writing for an hour every day or aiming for 20,000 words in the month or whatever works for you.

I think that the greatest value of national novel writing month for aspiring writers is that it says "Do it now." What "it" is turns out to be far less critical. This year, I'm finished up editing on a novel I wrote a couple of years ago and have been letting sit, and then I'm returning to work on one that I started in 2003 and never finished. Neither qualifies for NaNo and there won't be any new, complete work when I'm done, but the fact that it's November is important for me anyway. It's important because I can classify it in my mind as the month I'm "supposed" to focus on these things, the month it's okay to take time out and immerse in my writing.

You can, too. Whether it's editing an old novel or finishing one you have in progress or cranking out a few short stories or writing some non-fiction articles for submission or focusing on your research for an upcoming non-fiction book or even just blogging every day, this is the month to make writing your priority and see what you can get done...and the fact that thousands of other people are working alongside you can be very motivational, even if you're not working exactly the way they are.

So what are YOU going to do for national novel writing month?