It’s that time of year.
No, I’m not talking about PSL* time at Starbucks . . . and every other place that sells coffee or pastries or really any food product that pumpkin flavor can be added. (Really, Trader Joe’s, pumpkin flavored tortilla chips?) The pumpkin spice craze has gone a bit too far IMO, but I digress.
And no, it’s not that fall has arrived. Or that it’s the season of all things paranormal with Halloween right around the corner. Or that it’s the start of the countdown to the Christmas holidays.
Nope. It’s NaNoWriMo Time!
For me, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is one of the best parts of fall.
Overall I have mixed feelings about fall. On the one hand, we have crisp, clean air with bright white clouds against a brilliant blue sky. The leaves tinged with color make for beautiful backdrops. It’s the season of s’mores, bonfires, and all things paranormal and spooky.
On the other, days shorten and darkness descends sooner, ridiculously early holiday commercials and marketing begin, and cooler temperatures invade so that I can no longer wear sandals or flip-flops and am forced to wear socks again (ugh) with closed-toe shoes (double ugh). [Except apparently this October. I’m still wearing flip-flops as the weather has been weirdly hot and humid—at least until tomorrow when the temps will drop 10 degrees.]
But regardless of the weather or light (or lack thereof) or holiday marketing that seems to start in August, the one thing that I look forward to every year is NaNoWriMo.
This year marks my 9th year participating in NaNoWriMo. Of those 9 years participating, I’ve only ever “won” 1 time.
In 2013, I succeeded in writing a bit over 50,000 words. I didn’t actually finish the story I was writing. That took a bit more than 50,000 words and went beyond the month of November, and even beyond 2013 (in fact I’m still working on that story).
So as you may know (or guessed), to “win” NaNoWriMo, you must write 50,000 words in 30 days starting November 1.
But for me, any writing is a win. What NaNoWriMo helps me the most is with consistency because in order to succeed at NaNoWriMo, you have to write every day—approximately 1,667 words per day—to reach 50,000 in 30 days. And so while I may not reach 50,000 words, I at least get back in the habit of writing every day, even if it’s just 1 sentence.
But while November 1 officially kicks of NaNoWriMo, September and October are also part of the fun. September and more so October are all about NaNo prep. The prep months are some of the best parts of NaNo because of the camaraderie and enthusiasm in getting ready for NaNo. You start hearing from your writing buddies who may, like you, have dropped off the radar.
And when you sign up for NaNo, you can select a region. Your region will have municipal liaisons who set-up local write-ins and facilitate other fun writing events, which are great ways to connect with other writers. Even an introvert like myself enjoys the occasional write-in. (Another way to connect with other writers is via Facebook groups where you can share/receive inspiration, tips, request for beta readers or editors, and other writing support.) Because the best inspiration for me is to be around other writers. To hear their challenges and successes. To commiserate over plot failures, to debate word choices, and celebrate writing victories. To share and receive stories and tips. To generally know that you are not alone.
So even if I don’t technically “win” NaNoWriMo (i.e., write a 50,000 word novel), I will still be a winner because I will re-focus on my writing. I
aim to will write every day. Writing will be my priority because that NaNo word track will be staring at me and I will see the progress of my writing buddies, which will help spur me on. And for me, that’s the best part of fall and why I love November & NaNoWriMo.
Have you participated in NaNoWriMo? Are you participating this year? Share your experiences and your novel(s) in the comments below!
*pumpkin spice lattes