“I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done.”—Steven Wright
(If this is where you’re starting, email me. We need to talk.)
This quote is actually in honor of NaNoWriMo. Tomorrow is the deadline to sign up, and you can officially start tomorrow night after you put your trick-or-treaters to bed. 12:00:01am to be exact. There’s still time to join the fun and accept the challenge. You’ll have to spend more than five minutes a day, but you could probably do it in an hour or two a day. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1 and November 30. That works out to be about 1,700 words a day. That’s about 2 ½ pages a day if you use standard margins and don’t double space, or about 7 formatted pages.
The point to this type of writing is to focus on getting words on the page. Rough draft. The plan is to come back later and edit. Your inner editor cannot be part of this sprint. Your pace should be fast enough to outrun the editor and the critic, and to keep up with the muse. Don’t worry about spelling or punctuation. If you don’t know where the commas go, just poke them in wherever you feel so moved and weed them out later. Paragraph breaks, sentence structure, research for place names or location details – all that can wait for your second pass. Teach yourself to use brackets to note where you need a [tree] and you don’t know that what you really want to say is ‘eucalyptus’. You can come back in December and search for ‘[‘ to fill in the blanks.
Last year more than 30,000 participants crossed the finish line. Sign up, join the fun, and you could have a completed novel to edit before the end of the year.
“I think the scene—full of smack-talk and muffin crumbs on our keyboards—would have rightly horrified professional writers. We had taken the cloistered, agonized novel-writing process and transformed it into something that was half literary marathon and half block party.”—NaNoWriMo website
“We called it noveling. And after the noveling ended on August 1, my sense of what was possible for myself, and those around me, was forever changed. If my friends and I could write passable novels in a month, I knew, anyone could do it.”—NaNoWriMo website