>Would you like to finally write that novel you’ve always wanted to write? How about doing it in one month? And let’s make it November because working around holiday preparations and family gatherings makes it more interesting.
That, my friends, is NaNoWriMo!
NaNoWriMo is shorthand for National Novel Writing Month, an event of truly global proportions in which would-be novelists from all over the world sign up at the NaNoWriMo website and try to write a novel (from scratch) of at least 50,000 words during the month of November.
Can it be done? Oh, yes! Last year there were over 165,000 participants from hundreds of regions around the world. More than 30,000 of these aspiring novelists typed over 50,000 words to become winners. And I was one of them!
I’ve been a winner each of the previous four Novembers. One year’s result was a novel that grew into my juvenile fiction series about an endearing character named Matthew. Another year I wrote the third novel in that Matthew series. I wrote rough drafts of literary novels the other two years. One was named Sisters duirng NaNoWriMo, but I renamed it This Side of Heaven when it entered the revision stage of a Work In Progress. (Then Karen Kingsbury came out with a novel with that very same name! I will have to think of a new title. I’ll probably have to rewrite a crucial and climactic scene near the end. But it has some promise.) My other literary novel began with a scene in my mind. I saw a woman sitting on a beach. She was wearing blue jeans and a pink shirt. She had a blonde pony tail that was blowing in the wind. I spent all of that November figuring out who she was, how she got there, and why she was so sad.
This will be my fifth noveling November. As of yet, I have no idea what I will write about and I have no inspiring scenes in my mind. Am I concerned? Not at all!
Chris Baty is the founder of National Novel Writing Month and energetic Executive Director of its parent organization, the Office of Light and Letters. He is also the author of No Plot, No Problem. Chris excels at writing creatively humorous pep talks that motivate even the most timid novelist to attempt a first try.
He describes NaNoWriMo as a “fun, seat-of-your-pants” approach, writing:
Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.
Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.
Chris also writes:
By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.
The freedom of writing without an internal editor is my favorite thing about NaNoWriMo, while learning to squelch that pesky persona is my most difficult task. It isn’t easy, yet I already anticipate November and NaNoWriMo. My birthday falls in November and I view NaNoWriMo as my birthday present to me.
Strange, you say, why would anyone want to give themselves the gift of unremitting pressure coupled with hopeless goals?
Because, my friends, it is a real gift to allow myself to focus on fiction for one month out of my entire year of constant nonfiction writing deadlines. Oh, I still have regular deadlines during November. And I still have family commitments; in fact, I have more than usual family commitments during November. But I simply schedule in enough blocks of time to write an extra 50,000 words that month. Now doesn’t that sound like fun?
Wouldn’t you like to join me in my NaNoWriMo madness? My goal is to have at least ten writing buddies this November. NaNoWriMo buddies can see each other’s word counts and encourage (read “crack the whip over”) each other. I already have three writing buddies. I’m looking for seven more. Head on over to the NaNoWriMo website and sign up. Then add “Grandma Glenda” as your writing buddy.
Who will be first to jump on the careening NaNoWriMo bandwagon?