By: Rachel Katz

Every November, thousands of writers from around the world participate in the CrossFit of writing challenges. National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is an event where participants attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. Writers can plan their stories months in advance, but they cannot begin their projects until Nov. 1.

This year will mark my third attempt at NaNoWriMo. While I’m far from an expert on how to achieve this somewhat ridiculous goal, I’ve learned some valuable tips about the event over the last two years.

NaNoWriMo is a challenge, not a contest. There are prizes for writers who hit at least

50,000 words by midnight on Nov. 30, but the point of NaNoWriMo is the process. Sometimes it really is infeasible to write 50,000 words, especially if you have a large number of commitments, but if you manage to squeeze in time to write 10,000 words between midterms, classes, and social events, then you deserve to call yourself a winner just as much as the person who wrote a 100,000 word tome.

Find a buddy, whether they be in Hamilton or Tokyo. Writing with a friend is a lot like training for a marathon with a partner; you feed off each other’s energy and success. Late-night writing delirium is always more fun with a friend. My roommate and I met doing NaNo, and we’re both planning on participating this year. Having someone to write with also means that you feel connected with the online community that is putting as much blood, sweat, tears, and caffeine into the endeavor as you are.

The first thing any NaNoWriMo veteran will tell you is to turn off your “inner editor” for the month of November. No idea is too stupid, no plot twist too cliché. Basically, pretend the backspace key does not exist. The point of NaNo is not to produce a beautiful piece of literature. I like to think of it as either a first draft or a way to put words to an idea I’ve had in mind for months. Explore different writing styles and genres, and don’t shy away from an additional challenge.

And of course, remember to have fun, albeit in an unusual way. Surround your writing space with whatever you need to stay motivated. If you can’t stop typing to go to bed, you’re doing something right.

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