We are already nine days into National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, an annual writing challenge held every November that encourages novelists to produce a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It’s not as overwhelming as you may think. If you’re one of the thousands of novelists who have completed the challenge, you can attest it’s all a matter of determination, dedication and organization.

As with any challenge the key to success is not to get overwhelmed. The more organized, dedicated, and determined you are going in, the easier it will be to keep plugging away after your initial burst of enthusiasm wears off. Been there. Done that. Whether losing 20 pounds in 3 months or getting out of debt in a year or finishing a novel in 30 days, you need a plan to see it through to the end.

National Novel Writing Month offers a community of other writers going through the same things and facing the same challenges. When I was growing up in southern Ohio in the 1970’s I didn’t know a single writer. I didn’t know anyone who thought like me or wanted the same things I did. While writing is still a solitary activity, it’s nice to know help, advice, encouragement, and accountability are just a few clicks away.

People who record their food intake lose more weight than those who just count calories and hope for the best. Writers who maintain a word count and writing schedule are more efficient than those who sit down whenever they can steal a few moments and write whatever pops into their heads. A plan keeps you on track and helps you avoid wasting time chasing rabbit trails that lead nowhere and have to be rewritten or scrapped.

The more organized you are when you start, the less likely you will get overwhelmed and give up on the project. It may seem counterproductive to spend a week or even a month outlining and researching when you already have a limited time to write. On the contrary, organization will enable you to jump into the project where you left off at your last writing session and accomplish more.

Determination in completing the project, dedication to the process of writing, and organization of your writing plan will lessen your chance of getting overwhelmed and giving up. It will also go far in taking the joy and passion out of writing. Like Chalene Johnson always says about working out: If you’re not having fun, you won’t do it.

Don’t I know it!

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? How are you doing? Post your word count so we can encourage you on your journey to completing your novel.

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