As you all know, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is fast approaching. I will always have a special place in my heart for NaNoWriMo, because I wrote my first novel during NaNoWriMo.
Let me set the scene. It was 2000. The Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears were dominating the airwaves. I was wearing Bonne Bell’s Lip Smackers, and I might have been still writing in an old Lisa Frank notebook. I was still in middle school, so I was suffering through a special form of Hell.
Like Dante, I wanted to leave Hell, so when I stumbled upon something called NaNoWriMo, I was all in. A chance to escape the cruel world of middle school into a world of my own making? Heck yes! (For the record, I never officially signed up. I just did it on my own.)
I didn’t mess around. I spent the month of October planning out my characters, outlining my novel, and developing the setting. I grabbed a neon-colored daily planner and wrote the number of words I needed to write every day. I even had a separate list of rewards that I would give myself when I hit a certain word count goal (an example reward: going to the movies with a childhood pal). Once I reached that goal, I used a glittery star sticker to place on that day (the notebook is still full of glitter…glitter lasts longer than dinosaur bones).
Once November started, I was committed. I worked every single day toward my goal. Sure, I might have had ridiculous hot pink nail polish on as I moved my fingers across the keyboards. Yes, I was probably listening to LFO or something equally embarrassing as I was writing. But I was doing it.
I did finish the novel that month. Was it terrible? Yes, it was awful. The characters were cartoonish, and the plot was over-the-top. But it was done. And, as a result, I knew I could do it.
I have never doubted that I could finish a novel since.
Let my pigtailed, dramatic self be an inspiration to you. Obviously, you don’t want her to be a style inspiration, but she could serve as a writing inspiration. She actually made a plan and got the writing done. It didn’t have to be elegant or sophisticated. She didn’t worry about the draft being terrible. She took her writing seriously, made a plan, and completed the novel.
If she can do it, you can too. Create a schedule, plan out your book, make a reward list, and commit to it. Before you know it, December 1 will roll around, and you will have a finished draft.
And you will never doubt that you can finish a novel again.
Want to take NanoWriMo seriously and reach the finish line? Check out my group program with Rocky Callen! You will have a cheerleading squad (a la Bring It On) and fun, daily e-mails to keep you going. Plus, you can throw whatever questions you have our way. You can get closer to your goals here.