NaNoWriMo is on the Horizon.

But last week I was only thinking about NaNoWriMo. I was busy, on the road, speaking at the Children’s Literature Festival of the Ozarks in Springfield, Missouri. Once a year, young readers come to the campus of Missouri State University for the day from all over the region to hear and see writers and illustrators talk about their creative processes and the books that result from them. The kids were great, the hosts were great, and as always I gained a renewed appreciation for what teachers do on a daily basis.

How Long Does a Book Take?

In one of my sessions, I was discussing my book Someone Was Watching, and I asked the kids to guess how long it took me to write the story, revise it, find a publisher, work with the editor(s) on more revisions, and last but not least, get it published. One of the kids guessed a month. Which, if correct, would have been awesome. Eventually, we worked our way up to the right answer–four years–but the one-month guess hit a chord with me, because next month I’m planning on taking part in NaNoWriMo, which is shorthand for National Novel Writing Month.

What the Hell is NaNoWriMo, Really?

NaNoWriMo is a program for which writers sign up with the objective in mind of writing a novel in a month. Fifty thousand words. Sixteen hundred sixty-seven words a day. Don’t fall behind, because then your daily output would have to increase. But you’re not in it alone. Thousands of writers take part. And you get little messages of encouragement, and tools for noting your progress. And maybe even a virtual gold star at the finish line.

What About Groundwork?

I’ve been preparing for November first by brainstorming and working on a synopsis for a story, and time allowing, I’ll try to get an outline written so I’ll at least have a rough road map of where I want to go before I take off on my thirty-day trip. And then it’s pedal to the metal. If you see me stuck on the side of the road, give me a wave. And maybe a sentence or two.

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