Yes, it is. Because it's that time of year, when millions of people will sit down at their computers November 1 and commit themselves to writing a novel over the course of the next 30 days. National Novel Writing Month - or NaNoWriMo - is an exercise in lunacy, pain, exultation, and true accomplishment.
Whether you finish or not, the 30-day, 50,000 word sprint has a more specific purpose: to help you develop the habit of sitting down at the computer every day and mindfully writing.
To meet the NaNoWriMo goals, you must write an average of 1666 words a day. That equals about 7-8 pages. To some, that seems an insurmountable number, which is why the whole goal of NaNo is for you to write without censure, turning off your inner editor, not worrying about plot or structure or voice or character, just writing. Getting words down on the page. Free as the wind.
Just so you know….1666 - That’s pretty standard output for a professional writer. With the exception of the times we’re pouting and moping, of course, we do that every day, and then some, five to seven days a week, 365 days a year. With deadlines looming, books releasing, and the necessary issue of worrying about plot and structure and voice and character, satisfying contractual obligations… etc… etc… those numbers can rise into the 4-7K range. That's a lot of pages in a day.
I love NaNo. I think it’s a great exercise. The first 60K of 14, the second Taylor Jackson book, was a NaNo winner in 2006. I use November every year as a fun challenge to myself to see how much I can write in a month. It’s always the start of the cycle - two books in quick succession. This year, I'm deep in my collaboration novel with Catherine Coulter, JEWEL OF THE LION, and as soon as it's finished, I head into Samantha Owens #3, plus I'm into a short story for my annual novella with Alex Kava and Erica Spindler. I NEED a nice, big, fat, lush November.
Just FYI – a NOVEL is usually 75,000 plus, (mine are usually 90-100K) while a NOVELLA is 20-45,000 words. Just so you don’t think you’ve written a novel at 50K.
As you sit down to your computers November 1, remind yourself of this one thing. Should you succeed, should you finish the 50K, and go on to write another 30-50K on this story, then edit and edit and revise and revise then submit to agents, get an agent, who sells the book, you will be asked to do it again.
Yes, this isn't a one off situation.
When you work hard to fulfill your dreams, they have a tendency to become reality. And reality for a professional writer isn’t just a month of intensity. It isn’t just 1600 words a day. It is months of intensity. Millons of words. It is deadlines and jubilation and triumph and setbacks and heartbreak and bad breaks and sheer unadulterated bliss coupled with some luck – always luck. But none of that happens with seriously hard work.
So if you want to do this as a career, stick that in the back of your mind as you fly through the month of November.
One more thing. DO NOT, under any circumstances, submit on December 1. Take a few weeks off. Flesh out the rest of the book. Think about your story. Be sure it's up to regular novel word count, finished, polished, and perfect. Then, and only then, can you submit. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
With that - best of luck to you all!
(My friend Tracy Lucas put together a listing of all the word counters, and inside her post is stashed a most glorious tool - the yearly word counter. Check it out. I us it religiously.)
And a fun PS: My dear friend, the brilliant author Allison Brennan, will be here next week in my stead. I can't wait to hear what she has to say. Her new novel, STALKED, releases October 30. Go pre-order it. You won't be sorry!