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Are you ready for NaNo?

NaNoWriMo (aka "National Novel Writing Month") is a global annual event in November originating in the San Francisco/Oakland area. Anyone can be a NaNoWriMo Winner. You just have to know what particular challenges you may need to overcome, besides the obvious - 50,000 words in 30 days. Many will try. Less than 20% will succeed. Will you be one of them? Take this quiz and see.

1. The sentence you just wrote is missing a word and another misspelled. True to your nature, immediately you...

Ignore it and move on. Who cares?

Make a note to get back to it later.

Fix it now or it'll keep bugging you.

2. If you were captain of a sailing ship...

You'd pack a compass, a map, and a timetable or you're not leaving the dock.

You'd pack a compass and a map. Anything unexpected will just make the days more interesting.

Open the sails and let the winds take you where they may.

3. On your last diet...

You could've done it but then another new diet book came along.

Diet? That was so five minutes ago. Give me chocolate!

Jared the Subway Guy envies my success.

4. When you write and send a letter of complaint...

One or two curse words is enough. As long as they know you're pissed, you've made your point.

It's several pages long detailing every wrong and requires extra postage...

You've highlighted the major points and include your contact information for details.

    Your Score

If your score is Then...
14 - 20 NaNo was made for you! This is going to be a breeze.
7 - 13 You've got a really good shot at this but there's still some challenges.
1 - 6 You've got some big, big hurdles ahead of you, but you can do it.

So what does it all mean?

Each question determines the hurdle you're facing when it comes to NaNo.

Gag the Inner Editor. This is particularly hard for teachers and English majors, whose Inner Editor paralyzes them until corrections are made. The Inner Editor refuses to believe there's such a thing as 'Revision' or have any faith your ability to do it when the time comes. Understand that it's okay to write a huge mess. No one need ever see it, and even you don't have to look back if you don't want to. Tip: Keep a pile of index cards (more durable than sticky notes) beside you when you write. Each time you get the urge to fix something, pause to make a note for later, and then move on. It may seem like correcting would take just as much time as it does to make the note, but once you give in that Inner Editor, you're as good as done. Don't do it.

Forget the Flintstones. On The Flintstones, everything was carved in stone. Tip: If you want to make it at least halfway through NaNo, consider throwing together an outline before you start. At the halfway mark, around November 15 or so, be prepared to throw it away. It'll have served its purpose by then. After that, it'll just hold you back.

Embrace the process and stay committed. Just like a diet, commitment is important. And it's only 1 month out of your entire life. And it's only 1 month out of your entire life. (If you live to be 80, that's one month out of 960.) Tip: Consider a rewards system. Chris Baty's book, No Plot, No Problem suggests chocolate. My no-cal substitute is to write your total word count goals on each page of a calendar, and then use those teacher-reward stickers each time you make it, even if today is now Thursday and you only just made your word count goal for Tuesday. It sounds stupid, but every little gesture that feels like a reward helps. If, on the other hand, something else calls to you: learning to clog-dance, coaching the kids' soccer team, or writing a non-fiction exposé on global warming, that's fine. NaNo simply doesn't rank high enough on your priority list. And it doesn't have to. But recognize it for the hurdle that it is.

Be wordy! If you're a minimalist or a short story writer, NaNo is no place for an economy of words. Ramble. Tip: Throw in pointless dream sequences that go on for pages, write long conversations or letters that go nowhere, quote poems and song lyrics, describe your character's clothes down to the buttons. Novels are never 'written'. Drafts are written. Novels are revised. If you want to win, it doesn't matter if your novel is Pulitzer-worthy. If it's 49,999 words, you've lost. Make this your mantra: Word Count Is All.

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