National Novel Writing Month

It’s the fifth day of the week, the fourth morning in a row I’ve resorted to the snooze button, and the third day of National Novel Writing Month

It’s also the second day I’m actually writing, and the first time I’ve written a blog post about this particular subject.

There. Isn’t it so much more satisfying now that I’ve finished the count down? Moving on.

So, yes, National Novel Writing Month. Or NaNoWriMo, if you’re being cool, and I like to pretend to be cool sometimes. It doesn’t take much to figure out the concept: You (“you” being anyone at any age at any level of ability) write every day during November, and when the month comes to a close, you have a novel. We’re talking 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s a lot of words. If you’re like me and like to get a guess in both words and pages, I always judge 500 words to be about 1.5-2 pages. Double-spaced. Times New Roman 12pt font. It’s a big undertaking, but it bears repeating that—if you have the guts and the stamina—at the end of the month you’ll have a novel.

Or, let me be clear, the draft of a novel. Entire books written from start to end and perfect and ready on November 30th are like unicorns. But it’s the concept and the work and the drive to sit down and write every single day that matters. I think it’s a beautiful thing.

I’m going to quote the NaNoWriMo peeps—or, more accurately, the nonprofit founded in 1999—because I can’t say it better than they can. Their mission: “National Novel Writing Month believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.”

See what I mean? Beautiful.

I’ve never done NaNoWriMo before, but this is the year. I’m going to attempt it. Sort of attempt it anyway. My goal is less writing 50,000 words and more committing to write every day in November. Also, at the end of the month, my writing buddy and I have agreed to send each other the draft of a short story. Length of my story is TBD. Plot TBD as well, come to think of it.

Now, to be honest, I’ve gotten off to a bad start. November 1st came and went without me writing a word (but my excuse involves surprise hockey tickets, so consider that before you pass final judgement). Since then though, I’ve been doing well. Yes, it’s only been two days, but that’s better than nothing, and “better than nothing” is my true motivation for joining the novel writing crazies of the world in this brave endeavor.

I wasn’t much of a writer as a kid. I started a lot of “Once upon a time” things that didn’t make it much past the “there lived a girl named Sally” bit. (Sally or Amy or Mary usually had blue eyes and blonde hair, go figure.) In college, between double majoring in English and Communication and working on the newspaper, I wrote almost constantly. Not always creatively (although sometimes it requires creativity to cope with the blandest of assignments), but consistently. However, these days I’ve fallen out of the habit. Except for this blog keeping me in line, days and weeks can go by without me writing a word. Which, in perfect honestly, is not a problem at all; truly, the universe doesn’t give a damn if I write at all. But I do.

Hence NaNoWriMo.

Some people prepare for this. They come to November 1st, plot outlines and character sketches and snacks in hand. I applaud them. Others, like me, crash in at the last minute and hope to stumble through. Both ways are fine; it’s a personal challenge. Really, I’m just hoping that I look back on November with more than two days of writing under my belt. That will be my victory.

Thirty days. Even if you’re not a writer, what would you consider committing to doing for a whole month? It seems like a lot and a little at the same time.

Thirty days. I—we—can do this.


If you’re interested even a little bit, and because book nerds win, check out #NaNoWriMo on any social media channel (but especially Twitter) for a taste of what others are up to this month. There’s plenty of inspiration and support and complaints about writer’s block to be found. Enjoy and happy writing.

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