How to Write 50,000 Words in 30 Days, Make New Friends, and Squash Writer’s Block

16 Oct 2009


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Dust off your laptops, start doing some preliminary research, and clear your schedule for November: The beginning of next month marks the 10th anniversary of National Novel Writing Month.

Here’s the deal. Anyone can participate (you just need to register on the NaNoWriMo site). Writing begins Novembers 1st and ends November 30th at midnight. The one and only goal for participants: to write a 50,000 word (175 page) novel in 30 short days.

And it doesn’t even have to be a good novel. In fact, word count is the only thing that matters – according to the website, this “kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.”

No self-editing. No self-censorship. It’s just you and your brain versus the blank page.

So what’s all this got to do with copywriting? Well, National Novel Writing Month demonstrates a philosophy that the perfectionists in us all refuse to recognize:

Sometimes, you can’t find the words to express what you mean. Sometimes, writer’s block happens. It happens to even the most practiced writers.

Here’s a tip for the copywriters out there: When you find yourself blocked, when the words just don’t flow out of you, write something. It doesn’t have to be a good something. It doesn’t have to make sense. Just get whatever you’re hung up on out of you.

Then, move on. Come back to it later.

For example, when I’m writing, I’ll put a placeholder in my first draft. It’s not unusual for me to write something like “Despite the team’s recent comeback, it’s been a xxx blah.” I’ll leave a note in there for myself and then come back to it later, when I feel more creative or have more time to think about it.

It’s a way I’ve found that helps me think around problems I’m having when I’m writing.

Take a look at National Novel Writing Month’s website and let us know if you plan on participating (now or in the future). And let’s all try to remember the true spirit of National Writing Month: Create. Write now. Edit later.

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