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NaNoWriMo has begun

Merri Maywether

It is 11:59 p.m. on October 31st. Around the world, people are nestled in the safety of their homes. Stacks of candy collected in festive looking bags and decorative bowls. 

At midnight, none of that is important. Because thousands of writers around the world have touched pen to paper, finger to keyboards, or voice to dictation device.

National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a. NaNoWriMo 2021 has begun. 

And we are ready.

We have our outlines or index cards, snacks, music, quiet space, and support teams.  Depending on comfort zones, the support teams will look like one or several of the following: NaNoWriMo buddies, Twitter sprints, Facebook groups, Discord, or live write-ins on Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok. 

Soon motivational messages will come our way. The team at NaNoWriMo will send encouraging emails. They’ll post motivational and informational videos on YouTube.

This month will look different than all the other months because this is the month we can, and many of us will, write a novel in a month. 50,000 words. 

Here’s a major detail. Good or bad—those words count. NaNoWriMo is about writing a story. The rest of the year you can edit, you can revise, you can make your story better. As I tell my students, it is easier to make something better. 

This month is about writing the words. So go to your computer keyboard and hide the backspace key. Take all of the erasers off of your pencils. Bury the white-out in the back of the furthest desk drawer. Are you getting the point? NaNoWriMo is about writing. It is not about being perfect. 

It is time to have fun begging, pleading, and sometimes fighting with characters to speak to us so we can live adventures through their eyes. Some of us will fight dragons, others will save the world from villains, and there will be instances where we will fall in love. 

With that being said, don’t be surprised if the overwhelming urge to clean window tracks, vacuum air ducts, or scrubbing the baseboards strikes. Writer’s block is a sneaky character that likes to disguise itself as super important—but not really that important—tasks that demand less energy than writing a story. 

Be strong writer friends. 

We’ve spent months preparing for this. Let’s stick to the plan. 

Remember, there will be days where we may fall short because life happens. That is okay. There are days to make it up. Writing Sprints with our teams can help us find the words trying to hide in the recesses of our hearts and minds. 

If I haven’t made it clear up to this point, I’ll say it explicitly. This is your month to enjoy the highs and lows, the bumps and bruises we will incur on this writing journey. If we do 50,000 words or as close to that number as we can write in the month of November, we will have a list of treasures. We will have anecdotes to retell, friends from around the world who shared in our experience, a new sense of what we can accomplish. Best of all, we will have a story that wasn’t in the world thirty days ago. 

Just maybe, it could be the one that changes lives for years to come. 

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Merri Maywether

Merri Maywether lives with her husband in rural Montana. You can find her in the town's only coffee house listening to three generations of Montanans share their stories. Otherwise, she's in the classroom or the school library, inspiring the next generation's writers.

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