I’ve done NaNoWriMo (NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth) for years, and every year people whine about it being in November. November contains Thanksgiving – that’s time off from writing at the end of the month when a lot of people are trying to get caught up. November also contains Black Friday, and I dare not suggest skipping that to make up for word count loss on Thanksgiving.
Here’s the thing: NaNo is a global event, and these are not global holidays. Other participants in other parts of the world have holidays and events that interfere too. Considering the international reach of the event, I doubt there is a single month that will miss some type of cultural or community interference.
Americans, we are not special. Cowboy up, plan around the kick-off to the holiday season.
I like November for NaNo. Granted, I’m a bit twisted, even for a romance writer. Or maybe I should say especially for a romance writer. Writing officially has two food groups: sugar and caffeine. Most commonly you see these in the forms of chocolate and coffee. I, for one, have stocked up on bags of Halloween bite-size candy. I already have bags of mini-Milky Ways and Three Musketeers in the freezer (I like them frozen, they last longer), as well as other little tidbits to get me through the month. Hubby is kind enough to pretend I’m just uber-prepared for the onslaught of trick-or-treaters, but we’ve been married long enough for him to know better. Can you think of a better time for an event like this than just after chocolate goes on sale? Really?
Coffee is easy. I’ll just say that at least at this time of year it’s as common to see it iced as hot, and the holiday specials kick in too. Candy cane and pumpkin spice. If you need that kind of incentive.
I tried a horror novel once (not my thing) but I found having Halloween just past made for great inspiration when outlining and starting my NaNo Novel. Halloween isn’t the best inspirational holiday for romance, but for some of my peers, it’s pretty good. Fall has some gorgeous colors and scents and I love to see that mentioned in books when I read. Or spring, depending on your hemisphere.
So, wind around and cater to the Americans who will still insist on believing themselves special and whining about the holidays in November detracting from precious writing time: Here’s what I do and I have never failed to exceed my word count, so listen up.
The goal of NaNoWriMo is 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s official, it cannot be negotiated (I don’t care about turkey-induced narcolepsy.) So 50,000 / 30. Most people just round this to 1,667 words per day. Now be honest with yourself. Will you write that on Thanksgiving and Black Friday? How about Sundays? Have a birthday, anniversary, or other event? Look at a calendar and mark off the days you most likely will not be sitting down and writing. Don’t lie to yourself and say you probably could. Error on the side of caution and just say you won’t. If you do, great! You’ll be ahead of the game or at least pleasantly surprised.
Now, count the days you will be writing and recalculate. Let’s say you’re taking 10 days off. For some that might seem bold, that equates to 2,500 words for the remaining 20 days. Depending on how you are as a writer, it’s doable. Only 5 days off? That’s 2,000 words a day. And remember, if you do write on those ‘off’ days, more power to you.
Don’t fear the word count, just be realistic about it. Being honest with yourself is the best way to prepare yourself to succeed.