How to Write a Novel in 20 Days. or, 10 Things You’ll Do Instead of Writing Your NaNo Novel

  1. Paint that old bookcase. Because getting the stray books in your writing room all in one spot will help you concentrate. Time spent: An hour to get to Home Depot and select a color; another hour to lay down newspaper in the driveway and drag the bookcase from behind the Christmas decorations in the garage and apply the first coat; 30 minutes to inspect your work and to contrive another means of procrastination.  The day’s word count? Minus six; pesky adverbs.
  2. Start that exercise regimen you’ve been too lazy to begin up until now because you read that moderate exercise helps you connect with the hind brain thus boosting creativity. Time spent: Unknown. You haven’t started yet, just tromped around the house all day wearing tennis shoes and testing pedometer apps on your smart phone. The day’s word count: 167. Your protagonist watches a jogger pass by his car as he sits in wait for his love interest.
  3. Start a blog to track your writing progress…to write about your novel and ultimately to write anything but your novel.
  4. Comment on every post in your Facebook feed at length calling it research. Facebook word count: 210. Novel word count for the day: 679. Your protagonist engages in Facebook chat with an online friend. Sadly you will delete the entire passage by midnight leaving the day’s word count at 16. You keep the status update.
  5. Manually turn back all the clocks in the house. Complain: It’s chores like this that keep you from the keyboard!
  6. Deconstruct your favorite novel to refresh your knowledge of pacing.  And to prove you do know how to outline!
  7. Thoroughly clean and rearrange the kids’ room. That done, you can get down to business.
  8. Take your laptop to the public library for a change of venue. Spend the day reading about the Spanish-American war.
  9. Seriously consider changing the genre of your novel. Discard that idea. Consider changing your protagonist’s gender. Do so then change it back. The day’s word count: zero.
  10. Move the old bookcase into your room and let the cats explore it. You’ve been so busy working that you’ve neglected them and that’s not right. This is just a month-long challenge and your life is ebbing away!
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