Nov. 28, 2006, was one of the coolest days of my life. That’s the day I wrote the 50,000th word in my budding novel, and thus “won” NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month. (Everyone who hits 50,000 by Day 30 wins.) Writing a novel in 30 days was one of the most insane, intoxicating, awesome things I’ve ever done, and I can’t recommend it enough.
One of my grad school professors once said, “No one’s going to break into your house and read your work when you’re not looking.” Translation: Don’t be afraid to put something — anything — down on the page. This is precisely the mantra of NaNoWriMo. In order to write 50,000 words in 30 days, you have to muzzle your inner editor. Don’t worry, she’ll have a chance to speak her mind on Dec. 1, but you’ll be surprised how much workable stuff you have by then — and how much plot develops by the simple virtue of having to move forward with what you’ve got. And there are so many delightful surprises along the way, like when your protagonist falls in love with the guy who’s just supposed to be a distraction. Characters have a way of doing that if you let them.
So, if you’ve always wanted to write a novel, go sign up now. Fair warning: NaNo is highly addictive. I hit the sophomore slump in 2007 and didn’t finish, and last year I decided to pass because I was planning my wedding. (Although, in retrospect, it probably would have been a great stress reliever.) But I’m fully motivated this year. If you’re in, friend me, and we’ll muddle through November together!