Here's the thing: we all already know that writing can be hard. That's not news. That's not relevant information. That's not helpful. Here's the more important thing: You don't have to do anything special in order to complete Nanowrimo.
You don't have to neatly arrange all your candles in a row and pray to any god that will take you that somehow your low low word count will magically triple overnight. You don't have to spend three months preparing and then another two weeks writing outlines, and then five days workshopping it with friends before you even write one word of your story. You don't have to start off with no idea what you're doing, not even the foggiest. You don't have to tell all your friends that you're doing it. You don't have to keep it secret. You don't have to hit the pause button on all things that are not writing and hate yourself when you maybe take five minutes to appreciate a really good gif or bar of chocolate. You don't even have to stay up until 3am every night weeping over a cup of cold tea and muttering to yourself in a corner and watching the rain.
You don't have to ditch punctuation, or spelling, or even basic plot. You don't have to go crazy. You don't have to stay sane. Preparation isn't crucial. Pansting your way through 50, 000 words isn't the only way to do it.
Here's the one and only piece of serious advice I will ever give you:
Don't listen to the dark voices in your head telling you that you can't; don't expect to fall short because you've been told, as a newbie, that you're somehow less worthy than the old-hats. Don't think that as a hardened veteran that at some point, obviously, your luck is going to run out. Don't let yourself doubt. Don't worry. Don't only do things because people tell you it will help -- it probably won't.
Leap into the unknown and give yourself the permission to do whatever you !#@&ing want for a month. Bound through November full of the knowledge that you can do anything you set your mind to and, in the end, it won't be the rituals that get you to your goal -- it won't be the weird tea breaks or 5 mile runs or baking frenzy -- it will be you. Own it. Own the fact that you are the master of your own fate. Own the fact that it's not your outline that's getting you through the words and days and weeks -- it's you. You are a stronger, more resilient, and better writer than you know. You got this, okay? You got this.
It's okay to feel challenged during National Novel Writing Month. It's okay to feel confused, maybe a little frightened, and unsure whether you've pushed yourself too far, so long as you