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NaNoWriMo: 6 Things I Learned from National Novel Writing Month

Shout out to all the folks participating in National Novel Writing Month this month, more affectionately known as NaNoWriMo‬.

The goal? Write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. I did NaNo back in 2004. Got the T-shirt to prove it, which I still wear proudly (it always garners many curious stares at the local Stop ‘n Shop).

I consider NaNo a major turning point in my life as a writer. When I did it, I finally gave myself permission to…

  1. Write forward. Up until that point, I was spending WAY too much time trying to perfect the first 10-20 pages instead of just getting the darn thing drafted.
  2. Write crap. A lot of crap. Knowing I could go back and fix it.
  3. Put my writing first. If you want to write 50,000 words in a month, then you need to say no to many things, like TV, navel-gazing, and generalized procrastination, all of which I excel at.
  4. Be gentle if I didn’t quite make my word count one day.
  5. Be happy when I did.
  6. Keep going, no matter what.

For all you writers out there, go get ’em. And for those living with someone doing NaNo, be supportive by offering lots of chocolate and coffee. And plenty of praise and wine on 12/1.