November is National Novel Writing Month when writers across the country and around the world will embark on an exciting 30-day, 50k writing adventure and… I won’t be joining them.

I am a firm believer in daily word counts. I have the Excel spreadsheet to prove it. And I find great motivation in externally imposed deadlines. But for some reason, NaNo doesn’t work for me.

I’ve done NaNo twice. Both times I hit the 50k goal in the allotted time period. And then I went dark for the month after. Not good. Partly I think it’s the timing. I make a lot of my Christmas goodies, which cuts into my writing creativity. Also, I think the validation of having done the 50k in 30 days is a false pressure relief on my writing brain. 50k is only half a book for me. That’s halfway, and halfway is great, but it’s not done. So the celebration doesn’t feel quite right.

But I still love NaNo, for the enthusiasm and the camaraderie. If you’re not taking part, here are a couple ways to enjoy NaNo:

1. Call all your NaNo-ing writer friends with fake urgent messages from their day jobs.

2. Post tweets at 10:30 a.m. saying you already got your 3k done for the day.

3. Tell your family you ARE doing NaNo and disappear from their lives while they cook turkeys and do the Christmas shopping.

No wait, those are all evil ways to enjoy NaNo. You can use NaNo for good even if you can’t NaNo all the way.

1. Follow the #NaNo tag on Twitter and cheer your fellow writers. They’ll cheer you when your time comes.

2. If you only have a couple days free in your schedule, dedicate the same energy the NaNoers do, just for those days. Or, if your writing schedule didn’t work out for first drafting, brainstorm or revise with that same intensity.

3. If you’ve never tried NaNo but would like to, use this month as a training session. Learn how to plan your days so you can get 1667 words done. And most importantly, take what you learn and apply it to the OTHER 11 months of the year. Then you’ll be ready for NaNo next year.

4. And remember, writing is a marathon. A zombie marathon, where you have to keep moving or they get you. But it is also sometimes a race-to-the-train sprint. And sometimes it is a grizzly attack where all you can do is curl into a ball and hope the pain goes away before you die. Mastering all the speeds of your story is the work of a lifetime, not just one month.

Happy writing, whether it’s 50k or 50 pages!



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