It’s about that time again! Right on the heels of Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes a month near and dear to my heart. It’s a month where writers young and old are challenged to dedicate as much of their November days toward completing a novel of 50,000 words or more. The purpose of this blog entry, aside from recognizing my recent neglect of Exercises in Tenacity, is to bring some attention to an event unknown to many outside a select community, as well as to encourage some first-timers to rise to the challenge!
Admittedly, last year was my first year participating in National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo as the writing community so affectionately refers to it). I semi-cheated; I used a manuscript that I’d been working on for a time and spent a small portion of the month working on it, but ultimately fell short of the 50k word goal.
This year, however, I’m going balls to the wall. I’ve been working on a basic plot outline and some character descriptions for a completely new project specifically for NaNoWriMo. I’m not writing a single sentence until November 1st, but I’d like to at least have something to start with. It’s a very exciting month, especially for aspiring writers, as the challenge provides the motivation for banging out a solid first draft.
In becoming a NaNoWriMo member, you create yourself an author profile as well as a profile for the book you plan to spend the month working on. As you progress in your writing, you can update your novel’s word count on your profile, which also calculates, based on the amount you’ve written and how much of the month is left, whether you’re on track, behind, or ahead of your 50k-word quota. I’ve found it to be an excellent motivator as it’s indescribably exciting to watch your progress-o-meter creep closer and closer to the goal.
And not only is the site a tool for tracking and inspiring progress, there is also a very helpful, insightful, and supportive community of fellow writers who are endeavoring to take on the same challenge as you. What’s more: Moderators of the site frequently post mini-challenges on the forums to include specific objects or plot points in your novel to make it all the more challenging. For example, one ‘curve’ was to include the element of a PB&J sandwich in your story–the details of the PB&J’s significance is to the discretion of the writer. Of course, such things are optional; the main goal is to bang out 50,000 words by November 30.
Additionally, many renowned writers post ‘pep talks’ and words of encouragement on the site for writers to read when progress seems to slow or halt altogether. Janet Fitch, writer of the acclaimed White Oleander, wrote a pep talk, as did Sara Gruen, who wrote Water for Elephants (here pep talk can be found here).
Not everybody is a writer, so this may not be everyone’s cup of proverbial tea, but if you find that you have a way with words or a passion for storytelling, I highly recommend heading over to NaNoWriMo, signing up and taking advantage of November as a time for banging away at your keyboard with wanton abandon. You can find my author profile here; be sure to friend me and we’ll race toward the finish line together!