The climax of the word battle is just around the corner, the looming specter of NANO. Yes, indeed, November’s National Writing Month, where word warriors start out in formation and thirty days and (hopefully) 50,000 words later they emerge battle-scarred and victorious. I shall be baring witness from the sidelines this year.
NANO was a wonderful way to kick my butt when I was first starting out. It was a weapon (think guilt-trip inducing) to hit a targeted word count each day. I did it for four years. Year one was an epic failure, year two I managed to crest the hill and was about to plant my flag, then was overwhelmed by the last minute reinforcements. Year three, I tromped the syllable fiends into their places and dominated with 50K+ victory. Year four, I got half way through the battle and then my special forces unit was recalled to fight on a different battlefield.
This year, I’ll be in the midst of carving out MARKED BY OBSESSION, the third book in my PSY-IV Teams series, so I shall lift my head occasionally to watch younger word warriors who’ve not been hardened by multiple conflicts, take the field and set it alight with their zealous passion. I will offer encouragement because I do think every author should at least step on to the NANO field at least once in their writing career, because such experience will help the pen warrior define their skill set.
To the ever asked question of how I manage to get two full-length books out each year with family/day job/life in tow, I offer the critical weapon I won from my NANO wars: daily word count and a plan.
These two strategies keep me on track, and allow me to ensure that my writing soul is fed and not allowed to starve. I try to hit a daily word count, five out of seven days a week. Some days it’s like pulling teeth, set in cement, without painkillers while fire ants make a meal out of your trembling limbs. Some days, the set amount becomes merely a suggestion you blow past early in the skirmish. Either way, it’s my time with my characters, and it is just as important as the time I set aside for my day job or family or friends.
I have other warriors I’ve traveled with who use a set amount of time versus an actual amount. Doesn’t matter how many words (2 or 2000), so long as they keep that time slot sacred to writing. Still, the point remains the same, and it is the same point NANO is essentially trying to provide writers: write, every day, something, or that dream of a castle made of words and fantastical stories will crumble to dust.
If you’re looking for something to kick you in the ass and get you moving, join NANO and free the fierce word warrior that exists in you.