NaNoWriMo starts today. Thousands of writers are beginning their first steps toward spending dozens of hours hunched in front of computer screens and enveloped in the worlds they’re in the process of forging. Those who triumph over this month-long, novel-making siege will have overcome a myriad of obstacles to produce their 50,000+ word manuscripts. I’m participating this year for the first time since 2012, and I’m still sticking by my mantra from then to keep myself writing: You can’t edit a blank page.

But saying that just is not enough.

When we’re slogging through the trenches of first-draft warfare, it’s not enough to have pithy little proverbs–we can’t earn motivation so easily. I think an acceptable mindset when writers approach such a grind is a declaration of all-out war.

What should writers declare war against? Writers should declare war against the notion that a first draft has to be a masterpiece. Writers should declare war against all the crippling voices of self-doubt that come with setting out on a creative endeavor. Writers should declare war against the laziness that tries to convince us, “The work can wait until tomorrow.”

Writers should declare a war whose terms of victory hinge on a finished product by November 30th.

If this is your first attempt at conquering a full-length manuscript, I encourage you not to give in to the idea that your writing has to be ready to publish. I encourage you just to produce something. Chase those words down relentlessly and get them on the page. Lay your framework in November. Fine-tune your craft once you’ve won this first battle.

If you’re a veteran of this month of words and stories, continue pursuing your love of the craft as if it were the first time you discovered the joys of writing. I encourage you to remember the moment that light bulb went off in your head when you realized just what you could do with words. Attack NaNoWriMo with the mind of a veteran and the heart of a child.

When you’re slogging through the trenches this month, remember that this is a war. It doesn’t matter how pretty the battles are so long as you stick the “THE END” flag at the end.

I’ll let legendary coach Vince Lombardi send us off to war:

“I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”

Make NaNoWriMo 2015 your finest writerly hour.

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