Almost Time for National Novel Writing Month

Almost Time for National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month begins on November 1, and I’ve decided to take the plunge and participate. If you’re interested in joining me or just finding out enough to cheer me on, visit the website at

National Novel Writing Month Crest
What does all that mean?

It means I’m joining with over 300,000 writers around the world who have set a goal to begin drafting a novel on November 1, and to complete 50,000 words by 11:59 on November 30.

Why 50,000 words?

Because it’s the minimum length of a short novel.

How on earth can anyone write a novel in a month?

It’s actually only a draft–an unedited, unrevised flow of ideas with a beginning, middle, and end. Nevertheless, it is a daunting goal, which translates into the writing of about 1,666 words a day.

I have an idea that in order to meet my word count, I’ll probably be writing sentences like “It was a long, long, long, long time ago,” and giving my characters last names like Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff.

Can you write any of the novel before November 1?

Some people have done it, but the idea is not to begin the actual manuscript prior to the starting date. Many NaNoWriMo participants say they spend time in October preparing a rough outline of the the story. They also make notes on the characters and setting.

If there’s any research to be done, they complete that before November as well. However, some say they begin with only a seed of an idea and follow that idea where it leads. I’ve read accounts of participants ditching their original idea half way through the month. Then, they go on to create a new story in only two weeks.

Much of what participants are posting on Twitter and Facebook relates to their mental preparation for the challenge. For example, they prepare their work spaces, download playlists of favorite tunes, and stock up on soup, comfort food, and sweets.

So far, I’ve spent preparation time outlining my story and identifying the major characters. The novel is loosely based on my family’s move in 1961 to Birmingham, Alabama. It deals with our adjustment to life in the affluent community of Mountain Brook. All this occurred  during the height of the Cold War and was surrounded by events of the Civil Rights Movement which played out at our very doorsteps. It’s a compelling story. That’s why I hope to complete at least an ugly draft of it during the November marathon.

What support is out there for a reluctant first-time participant?

The NaNoWriMo website offers lots of support and encouragement, beginning with October Na-No-Prep and throughout the actual month of writing.

There’s also daily support on social media. For example, on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, people post motivational quotes, tips for getting prepared, and stories of successes and failures.

And, there’s the psychological support of joining a huge throng of people who believe in the transformational power of writing and are simultaneously seeking to complete a novel from beginning to end, within a prescribed time and framework. Misery loves company!

Many who have tried and succeeded report that NaNoWriMo has been a valuable creative experience. They say the experience motivated them to revise, edit, and publish their novels.

However, an even greater number report that they fell short of the 50,000 word goal in the past, and are returning to try again this year. It seems the key ingredient is effort and that the only way to fail at NaNoWriMo is not to try at all.

What’s Next?

For the remainder of October, I’ll be blogging on the count-down to National Novel Writing Month. Once November begins, I’ll post my progress and ask for your support to cheer me on.

I’ll also keep you posted on the progress of my upcoming novel, In the Fullness of Time, which I hope to publish early in 2017. I just received the first edit of the manuscript from my Kirkus editor and have already begun making the suggested revisions. (I’d almost rather have a root canal than spend time revising. So tedious!)

I’m still working to update this site as promised in my blog on September 17. See Off the Grid. 

Hopefully, you’ll see the improvements long before the publication of my next book.









  • Barbara Kerr
    Posted on 14 October 2016 Reply

    Good for you for taking on this challenge! I look forward to hearing about it when you’ve completed your 50,000 words.

      Posted on 17 October 2016 Reply

      I’m probably crazy to do it in November, but I guess if not now, when?

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