Tomorrow, Tuesday November 1 2011 is the start of National Novel Writing Month. Are you ready? This is a great opportunity to test your skills, develop you ideas and enter the realm of writing. Your topic can be serious or whimsical, topical or fantasy, personal or political. In this case, it is actually all about you. You choose your topic. You choose your message. And you choose every word that you put down. If you choose to participate in the organized event sponsored by the Office Of Letters and Light at NaNoWriMo.org, then you can work within a community and get fancy (symbolic but no actual dollar value) prizes. The goal is set, 50,000 words in 30 days. That is 1667 words a day on average.

I have participated in the challenge for the last two years and will be again this year. Why did I even think of participating? Well that is a mixed bag of suggestions, distractions and loneliness. A co-worker first showed me the NaNoWriMo challenge. I hesitated for several years. My kids encouraged me, but still I did not jump in. Then in 2009, I was on an extended work trip in California with nothing to do in the evenings. I had a computer and lots of time, especially on weekends. The result was a romance novel titled A Changed Man. It was not what I originally planned, but it is what I ended up with.

Why did I do it again? That answer is much less complicated. I really enjoyed writing the first work and Kosmo had invited me to relate my experience on The Soap Boxers (then know as the Casual Observer). Basically, I got addicted to writing. It was fun and I could write down anything. The second effort is Science Fiction titled Out There. To date, it is at about 100,000 words and only about 2/3rds of the way done. The Romance was about 150 pages in standard 5.5×8.5 binding. The Science Fiction will be about 400 pages. Both of these are about average for their genre. I did not aim for a specific length, these are just the results of my efforts.

What am I going to do this year? Well, this year is a response to a request by my sons. It will be an almost comic book story to be titled Fire Breathing Ninja Squirrels from Outer Space. I think the title alone gives you enough to put a picture in your head. I have the location picked out already, northern Minnesota. I have also thought about the heroic kids who are much smarter than any of the adults, the evil invaders, the loyal dogs, and the native squirrels torn between their love of home and allegiance to the invading species. All in all, this one should be fun, and easy to keep up the word count.

Remember the rules, no actual writing of the novel until November 1. Good luck and happy writing!

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Martin writes about writing in his weekly column Ramblings from Martin.

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