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By: Christine Chow/Lifestyle Writer

As a month, November sucks. It’s after Halloween, weeks away from the Christmas break, and usually filled to the brim with an army of midterms lining up to punch you in the gut. But for many aspiring writers, November, not December (although it comes a close second), is the most wonderful time of the year: it’s National Novel Writing Month.

National Novel Writing Month, more commonly known as NaNoWriMo, is a worldwide event that aims to promote pure, unfiltered writing in a 30-day, 50,000 word marathon. To put that in perspective, one month of 50,000 words equates to writing roughly 1,700 words or 3.5 single-spaced pages of words per day, every day.

Subjecting yourself to that kind of torture on top of midterms, academic essays and formal lab reports probably exceeds the ordinary scope of belief (and sanity), but I implore you to pledge yourself to the challenge anyway. All you have to do is sign up on their website (nanowrimo.org), which will grant you access to a profile for information about your work-in-progress, as well as a meter that can be updated regularly with the total number of words you’ve written so far.

Writers are perfectionists, and thus make the worst procrastinators. Memories of the English course I took as an elective last year all bring me back to the same nightmarish scenario. I would hunch over my laptop for hours in the early morning, squinting through the darkness at an awkwardly phrased sentence while my roommate continued to snore away happily in the background. When I finally finished, despite knowing I had done a relatively good job, I never once walked away feeling like it was my best.

The solution, then, seems obvious: just start writing earlier. But as a well-read writer, expectations we have for our own work are often unrealistically high. You care so much about what you write and how you write that often you end up writing nothing at all, if only because nothing, as a default, seems safer than attaching your name to whatever seemingly mediocre piece you’ll churn out. For academic writing, that equates to putting it off until the last possible minute, or writing at an unimpressive rate of one sentence per hour.

The beauty of NaNoWriMo is in its ability to force you to put aside that perfectionist mentality. You write mindlessly and terribly and everything you write is basically a load of crap, but the important thing is that your word vomit doesn’t ever have to see the light of day. Adopting this strategy gives you something to work with that might eventually become your chef-d’oeuvre somewhere down the road. Even if it doesn’t, the sheer demand of quantity from NaNoWriMo allows you to exercise writing as a skill, which is useful no matter what field of work you go into.

If you’re struggling to keep up with your daily word count, try incorporating writing into your regular routine by dedicating a particular time of your day just to write. Stock up on snacks, tell your housemates to leave you in peace and find some writing buddies whose word meters you can use to motivate yourself through a bit of friendly competition. As a fellow well-seasoned NaNoWriMo veteran, I say to you: on your marks, get set, write!

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