Well, you’ve really done it now. You signed up for this unbelievably crazy adventure called National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo), and now you have to write a fifty-thousand-word novel in thirty days. Yes, that’s right; I said fifty thousand words in a month. Are you freaking out yet? Don’t worry. I’ll wait while you breathe into the little paper bag. *waiting* Feeling better? Welcome back!
It’s October 31, and we’re in the final countdown before NaNoWriMo 2011 begins tonight at midnight. In just a few short hours, we’ll be embarking on one of the most awesome, yet hair-raising writing experiences of our lives, and you know what? It’s going to be one of the best things you’ve ever done for your writing careers. No, seriously, I mean that. Tonight at midnight, you’ll start a month-long journey and write like you’ve never written before—writing you didn’t even know you were able to do.
Yes, you’re going to battle your inner editor for the first few days as he tells you, no … rather, he screams at you that it’s all wrong and that you should burn your computer and never write again. Give that editor a style guide and send her on vacation to a grammar convention for a month. Do whatever you need to do to get rid of her, and then get busy on that novel.
Over the course of the coming month, you’ll face all kinds of weekly roadblocks and challenges. You might think you have more time to write than you actually do; you might get stuck on a plot point and write yourself into a hole; you might even suffer from writers’ block. No matter what challenges you face this month, I can’t stress enough how important it is to get your daily word count done. I don’t care if one of your characters has a sudden moment of insanity and feels compelled to sing all ninety-nine verses of “Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” You do whatever it takes to get your word count done. NaNoWriMo is a month filled with challenges and frustrations, but also excitement and surprises at every turn. You’ll discover that your characters have minds of their own and will take the story in directions you never thought possible. You’ll also learn that you can write like better, longer, and in more places than you ever dreamed of.
Although you’re excited about your project, you might also be a little nervous about what to expect or how you’re going to make time to finish your manuscript. And that’s where the IBC comes in. Over the course of November, we’ll be bringing you a special blog series just for NaNoWriMo writers. All of us at the IBC are passionate about helping authors publish their books and learn the tools to market them effectively, and NaNoWriMo is no exception. NaNoWriMo is about finally finishing that novel you’ve always wanted to write (or starting another one), and we want to help you succeed. We’ve worked with several past NaNoWriMo winners who will be sharing their success stories with you to help you stay motivated.
Each week, you’ll hear from new guest bloggers who will not only share their stories with you, but they will also give you tips about how to succeed through the most difficult times in NaNoWriMo. You’ll hear stories about what weeks were the hardest for our guest bloggers to overcome, how to balance your writing time with the other activities in your life, the importance of having a writing buddy, and more. Add that to the encouragement e-mails that you’ll receive each week from the NaNoWriMo website, and you’re sure to have a winning formula.
The most important things to remember as you begin this writing journey are that you are not alone, and it’s all about having fun. Enjoy the writing process and getting to know your characters. They’ll show you where you need to go. NaNoWriMo will give you a chance to stretch your writing wings and bond with other writers in a whole new way.
Melissa Dalton is a YA writer who’s been in love with books her whole life. Her middle-grade novel, Merrick Maples and the Legend of the Lost Stone, which she wrote during NaNoWriMo 2010, will be released in 2012. She is currently hard at work on her NaNoWriMo 2011 project, a paranormal YA novel. Find her on Twitter, on Facebook, or on her blog.