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It’s almost that time again.

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In two short weeks, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo for short) will be upon us again.

That’s the month where young (and old) hopeful writers commit to sitting in front of their computers a lot. Oh, and typing approximately 1667 words a day if they want to win.

Not familiar with NaNoWriMo? Once upon a time, I wasn’t either. But it’s been a part of my life for several years now, and I can honestly say that it’s what gave my writing the boost it needed. It offered community, encouragement, and motivation. It told me that I wasn’t the only aspiring author out there, and it let me know that getting started was okay, and even that failing to “win” was okay too. What it really teaches isn’t how to write a bestselling novel, but what being a writer is really like.

Writers write. And a lot of them write every day. It’s not necessary to do so, see this recent post from a friend’s blog here) but NaNo can be a great way to teach yourself the habit of writing.

Do:

Expect to put in hard work.

Expect to “fail” (read: fall short) on some days.

Expect to “excel” (read: catch up) on others.

Expect some words or scenes to be so painful that writing is a curse.

Expect some words and scenes to flow so effortlessly stopping is a chore.

Plan at least one “day off,” even if you write that day anyway. (I.e. Calculate your word count per day as though you have 29 or 28 days to write 50K.)

Plan for failure but work toward success.

Don’t:

Give up.

Let one missed day derail your win.

Expect to make great friends–unless you cultivate those friendships.

Spend too much time in the forums that you forget why you’re there: to write.

Think this will give you anything other than a crappy first draft.

Forget to love the story you’re writing.

Go back and edit until 50K words are written (and validated).

Remember:

If you’re not in it for the fun, then why are you writing? You don’t have to participate in NaNo, but it can be a great way to get motivated to write that novel you’ve been thinking about for years, months, or just weeks.

But don’t let this November stress you out. With the holidays approaching (did I really just say that?), November can be a hard month to fully commit to 1667 words a day. So if the timing isn’t right for you, don’t worry, NaNo will be around next year. And who says you have to be a part of NaNo in order to write?

Write what you can, when you can, and eventually you’ll have that novel written!