If you're a writer, you've most likely heard about NaNoWriMo. But in case you haven't, it's National Novel Writing Month. From November 1st through the 30th, authors all over the world take part in a non-stop dash to write a novel of at least 50,000 words.
Why would anyone put themselves through that? For one thing, it's a great way to push yourself to complete a project. Writing 50K or more in one month is a heck of an ego boost. Also, the camaraderie and support of everyone involved is worth more than you can imagine. And - cherry on the sundae - if you reach your goal you get a cool image to put on your website or blog.
While you can't officially begin writing your novel until November 1st, there's no rule against using this time to make a plan. In fact, it's encouraged. On the NaNo prep page, you can find several resources as well as forums and other social links to connect you with participants. Here are a few suggestions that might help.
Get rid of speed bumps - I'm a seat-of-the-pants writer, which means I loathe creating outlines before jumping into a story. I need to discover who my characters are by living the story with them. However, I've learned that a bit of prep work helps a lot. For example, by pinning down character names and physical descriptions, I avoid coming to a screeching halt the first time I want to mention someone's eyes.
Be realistic about word count - In order to hit the 50K goal, you'll need to write 1,667 words a day. And that's if you write every day of the month (including Thanksgiving). Can you do that? Do you want to even try? Take a look at the month and decide exactly how many days you're able to devote to writing and plan accordingly. For example, if you can write 25 days of the month, then you need to write 2000 words a day to reach 50K. That may be more than you've written before, but it's definitely doable.
Forget about perfection - Actually, forget about writing something really good. The goal is to write a rough draft. On December 1st, you won't have a novel that's ready for print. It won't even be ready to submit anywhere. That's okay. You're going to have a story that's ready for editing. That's when you throw yourself into polishing and fine tuning.
Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo this year? What do you hope to get out of it?