NaNoWriMo: Assuming you know what it is, you either love it or hate it.
For those of you who don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, the annual word fest wherein participants commit to writing 50,000 words of a new novel between November 1 and November 30. Since its launch in 1999, NaNoWriMo has exploded, going from 21 participants to—get this—250,000.
Now at this particular point in my life, I have close to zero interest in writing a novel (been there, done that). I do, however, have high hopes for this little blog o’ mine.
So here’s what I plan to do: During the month of December, I’m going to commit to drafting a post every day. They won’t appear every day—that would likely drive you nuts—but they’ll be in the pipeline for when the time comes. That’s 31 posts in all, and if I do this—or even come anywhere close—it will mark a quantum leap for this tiny baby blog.
Great, but it’s only November 20. Why am I telling you this?
Here’s a secret: Anything I write between now and December 1 still counts towards my 31 posts. I admit it–I cheat. In fairness, December is a holiday month, so I know there will be some down days. (Also, chances are some of these posts will need some, er, polishing before they’re ready for you.)
I’m a big fan of plans like this. This is how, in another lifetime, I wrote (and published) my two novels. My goal was 500 words a day—about two double-spaced pages. And while I didn’t always meet the goal (in fact, far from it), I did track my progress, and that made all the difference.
The prolific Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope, who I recently discovered used a similar strategy, put it this way: “[I]f at any time I have slipped into idleness for a day or two, the record of that idleness has been there, staring me in the face and demanding of me increased labour, so that the deficiency might be supplied.”
Community support always helps—that’s the purpose of NaNoWriMo—and I’d love it if you would join me. Here’s how it works: Pick a project you want to get done and set a daily doable goal. For example, if you want to clean and de-clutter your house—Now why would I think of that?–you could commit to tossing three items a day. If you want to get in shape, commit to 30 minutes of exercise a day.
Tip: Try to keep your goals reasonable—and if you find you’ve set the bar too high, don’t be afraid to adjust.
If you’re on Twitter you can send your updates to @planbnation with the hashtag #naperpromo. Or feel free to post your progress on the Plan B Nation Facebook wall or comment on this post. I’ll be doing the same. I hope to see you there!
Note: Anyone who feels like a slacker for opting out of NaNoWriMo this year can take comfort in bestselling writer (and cyber pal) Laura Zigman’s witty take on the project—part of her terrific Annoying Conversations series of Xtranormal movies. (And if you are doing NaNoWriMo, best of luck. I’m quite sure you’ll be an exception.)
© 2011, amy gutman. All rights reserved.