Next week marks the beginning of November, which is a month that many writers look forward to and dread at the same time. If you didn't know, besides being the filler month between Halloween and Christmas, it is NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to spend everyday writing, and in 30 days you'll have a completed manuscript. Ok, so maybe not a completed manuscript, but at least you should end up with a rough first draft with a beginning, middle, and end. The word count goal needed to "win" is 50,000 words. That sounds like a lot, but it's really just in the neighborhood of 175-200 pages. Depending on the genre you are writing, that may or may not be around the word count you need (mostly it's not). That's ok, because that's really not the point.
The point is to get you writing. To take that idea you have been toying with in your mind for a story, and write it down. The point is to put your head down and get to writing. Everyday. For 30 days. When November is over, you can go back to what you've written, and start to make it the story you want it to be, the story it was meant to be. I like the way Shannon Hale put it when she said, "I'm writing a first draft and reminding myself that I'm simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles." That's really the point of NaNoWriMo. It is an opportunity for you to throw as much sand in your box as you can, so later you can build amazing castles. It's not going to be your perfect manuscript, ready to send in to an editor.
So, the important thing is not to focus too much on the quality of your words and story, but more on just getting it out there on the page. That doesn't mean you shouldn't have a plan. Whether you are a planner or a pantser, at this point it is probably time to really decide what you are going to work on in November. Who am I kidding? The planners have had their stuff figured out for a while now. In any case, I know you have an amazing story in you, just waiting to come out. Just do it. Take next week and next month as the opportunity you need to finally sit down and tell your story. I did it last year for the first time. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. But by the end of the month, when I hit my 50,000 words, it felt amazing. Now, because I did it once, I know I can do it again, but this year I am going to do it better. I hope you'll join me.
Jake Dietz is a story teller. In addition to the writings on this site, he is also the host of The Geeky Mormon Presents... -a weekly podcast on all things geek. He is also a husband and father of six beautiful children. He loves a good story and will take it in any format he can find.
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Original artwork is ©Samuel Norton 2016.