November casts a long shadow this year, more than most. In Minnesota, it ushers in the chill of serious autumn leading to the deep freeze of winter. This year, it means the end of socially distant visits on my patio with friends. Or, I’ll get creative with quilts on hand and hot chocolate at the ready? One can’t hide from winter in Minnesota; there are too many cold weather months to enjoy!

Aside from pandemic fatigue and sorting out holidays without family visits, the month of November this year will be political. Regardless of your views, the crescendo of voices is loud, the rhetoric exercised and the stakes more overblown than ever. My neighbor reports she’s broken out in hives. A couple of friends have gone off social media and are completely skipping the news of the day merely to stay sane.

So, I’ve decided to use the month to participate in NaNoWriMo. 

The acronym stands for “National Write a Novel in a Month.” Life is complicated this year, and to keep my mind occupied with constructive effort, I’ve committed to giving it a go! I figure it’s the perfect year to do it. My debut novel, “A Better Next” has now been out for almost eighteen months. In September, I signed a publishing contract for my second novel, which is now lined up for Spring of ’22. Perhaps by then events will be live?  Not sure, but I’m itching to get a new project started. November it is!

NaNoWriMo sent me a few trinkets to get me going—three little badges that describe the common lingo for an ice-breaker should you ever find yourself at a writer’s conference. 

A—Are you a pantser? A writer who drafts by the seat of their novelizing pants.

B—Are you a planner? A writer who ticks off every single box.

C—Are you a plantser? A writer who plots with room for sudden spontaneity.

In the next couple of weeks I have to get ready!  The ultimate monthly goal of 50,000 words is ambitious. While I have now written two books of around 90,000 words each, believe me, neither was in solid shape in a month. So, I’ve got to think about my objectives including pace of writing, schedule of life while writing and how much planning and plotting I should do before November first.

Staring at a blank sheet of paper is not my style. I usually have an idea or 500 that have been swirling in mind before I ever put fingers on my computer keys as well as the skeleton of a plot and characters mingling around…Does that mean I’m a planner? I know I’m not a pantser, but if I don’t do some prep before November 1st, one could call me that.  I believe I’ll embrace planster—has a better sound to it, and who doesn’t want to be open to sudden spontaneity?

While joining group activities isn’t always my thing, I like the notion of like-minded people undertaking the impossible—all at the same time. This effort was started in 1999 and last year over 450,000 people participated. My guess is that the prompts and milestones posted by others will keep me motivated.

I better get cracking on my plotting. True confession time — I’ve been dreaming lately—and my dreams have introduced me to certain intriguing characters. Time to play with them!

Happy November!  If I’m really into the NaNoWriMo groove, I may skip writing a November blog post. Wish me luck!