Very few non-writers know what NaNoWriMo is. A handful of writers are equally clueless. I feel lucky to have known about the National Novel Writing Month for a few years now. And after five attempts, I finally won NaNo! (All the cool kids call it NaNo)

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How did things change for me so that I could write 50,000 words in 30 days? Well, here’s what I did. I started last summer, in July, I think. I dedicated 2 hours every day to writing. I became accountable to my local Romance Writers of America chapter (cool kids – RWA) by calling it sprinting for an hour and then checking back in at the end of each hour with a word count. I got into the habit of actually having time to write Monday through Friday.

I have blogs and Facebook pages and reports and lots of other stuff going on in my life, so I had to mandate that the two hours per day were for my Work In Progress (cool kids – WIP) only. My RWA group made things interesting by starting a 30-minute sprint for 30 days Challenge. We had to comment on the special Facebook page for sprinting, return with a word count, and mark an X next to our names on a Google spreadsheet.

Here’s another cool tool to get you going for NaNo. http://whateverbrightthings.com/free-printable-nanowrimo-word-count-schedule-planner-stickers/

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Everyone who met the 30-day Challenge received a bag of goodies including a tiara! Simply fabu! The one gentleman who met the challenge received a crown, which looked very good on him. By the way, try not to get between a Romance writer and chocolate or alcohol. I’m just saying.

NaNo started half way through the Challenge, making the Challenge more, well, challenging. A simple goal of 1700 words per day would get me to my winning count of 50,000. Meanwhile, I decided to work on a contemporary romance instead of a historical one. About lots of things I know nothing about. Crazy for Trying became exactly the title for me this year.

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Mid-November, disaster struck. There was an election of which we will never speak again. Due to insurance issues, my back yard needed to be totally reworked and cleaned out. Not just now, but a week ago would have been better. I still kept up with my word counts. Then, just to make things interesting, I stressed myself into a cold. Yuck! At least I could keep warm, drink lots of liquids, and type all at the same time. The final brick in the wall that collapsed on top of me was being co-chair for the RWA local chapter’s fund-raising event this year. No sleeping in that day, lots of things to pack into the car, a 45-minute drive, unpack, set up, worry, stress, run around.

The event itself was amazing and fun and brilliant. My co-chair, C.J. Corbin is one of those sisters of the heart I have been lucky to find through my life. The speaker that day, Julie Kagawa, blew us all away by being smart, funny, and a little mischievous. I don’t think any other speaker has photo-bombed one of our award-winner photo before. She definitely raised the bar.

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The next few days I sat back and let myself be sick. Then I put on my big-writer-pants and got back to work. I needed 2,000 words per day to make the goal. Not a problem. The story became interesting, taking turns I never imagined, and rushing me to the end.

Yikes! Somewhere between my logging of word counts and NaNo’s count of the completed story, I had lost 600 words! All my friends on Facebook were posting that they won NaNo, hooray for them! I used that emotion to keep myself going on the last day of November. And I did it!

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I have to admit that my story has an introduction that can probably go away and not be missed. And an epilog that will be radically changed. But I am a NaNoWriMo Winner! I got the t-shirt and everything. I finished a rough draft in 30 days against overwhelming oddities, as John Lennon said. I did it and will keep doing it.

The best part of all of this? I like my story! I read it over a few times to pad the word count and I laughed and I cried. How cool is that?

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.

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