Edward Owen – Author

Everything You Wanted to Know About NaNaWriMo …

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And Were Smart Enough NOT to Ask a Writer

Now that you’ve recovered from that sugar coma, you’ll be happy to know that today is November 1st. All Saints Day (the reason Halloween was started), last Friday before fall elections (Black Friday?) and the beginning of NaNoWriMo. If you’ve heard the term and wondered what sort of strange code your friends were speaking (yes, you just smiled and nodded and hoped no one would ask you about your own experience) what they were talking about was National Novel Writing Month (just NaNo if you want to be uber hip). Every November for the last thirteen years writers from around the world have cranked out 50,000 words or more in 30 days. For the arithmetically challenged, that’s 1,667 words a day. If you type 20 words per minute (remember, you’re composing)  it will take just under an hour and a half a day to meet your goal; barring writer’s block and your failure to turn off your inner editor. Actually, very doable for most writers.

I participated last year for the first time and hit just over 53K words by the end of the month. Yes, I have a full time job which includes a forty five minute commute each way to Los Angeles. This time last year I was still on a five day work week. That means I had an hour and a half of free time (except when it was my turn to drive the vanpool) plus my hour lunch break. My laptop was an ever-present fixture and that hasn’t changed much.  Regretfully (kind of) I am in the middle of  several projects this year and can’t sqeeze NaNo in to the schedule. I’m hoping to plan better next year so I can jump into the fray once again.

First of all, if you are a Morkplotter (one who outlines before they write) you have the battle all but won. Last year I spent most of October outlining my novel, “Death in the Middle of Nowhere” in Scrivener. If you aren’t familiar with what I consider the greatest piece of software ever written read this post. By the time November 1st came around all I had to do was fill in the blanks. Just so you know, I am by nature a pantser, meaning I normally write by the seat of my pants as the words come to me. Even if a hard core outline makes your muse whine like a corral full of Kardashians, jotting down the major plot points, story arc and character sketches (which even pantsers should be doing anyway) will help keep your story on track.

One last thing: Be bold, be brave, be ready to write the biggest cowpie of your literary career. NaNo has nothing to do with writing well, only with writing and FINISHING! Turn off that little voice telling you to change ‘that’ to ‘which’, correct your spelling errors (those red squigglies aren’t going anywhere) and rewrite that chunk of dialogue. Honestly, this is the way you should be writing anyway. If nothing else, NaNo will help you stretch your writer’s muscles and get you further down the road to becoming a better writer. Do it. It is an awesome experience.


Until next week Dear Reader, scary NaNo dreams.

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