Just Do It! NaNoWriMo
by Sarah E. White
www.inkthinkerblog.com — It’s almost November, and for thousands of writers and would-be writers the world over, that means it’s almost time for the high-octane, caffeine-fueled novel-writing extravaganza that is National Novel Writing Month.
If you’ve never heard of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, as it’s called by those who know and love it, it’s a month-long challenge wherein participants attempt to write a novel of at least 50,000 words entirely during the month of November. It’s a crazy feat, and a heck of a lot of fun.
More than 40,000 people are already signed up for this year’s “contest” at NaNoWriMo’s website. A novel in a month can certainly be attempted at other times of the year, but the crazy group dynamic of a noveling November is a huge part of the attraction.
For those who do their month of noveling in November, or any other month, NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty offers tons of advice, inspiration and cheerleading with his book No Plot, No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days and the recently released No Plot, No Problem! Novel-Writing Kit. The book offers concrete information on the hows and whys of month-long novel challenges, while the kit provides helpful supplies for your journey.
Baty is such an inspiration that readers will find themselves wanting to write a novel in a month, starting tomorrow, no matter what else is going on in their lives. And he lets you know that it’s not as unreasonable goal as you think it might be — most people only need about 12 hours a week to write 50,000 words in a month.
“Writing a novel simply feels great,” Baty writes. “Slipping into ‘the zone’ — that place where you become a passive conduit to a story — exercises your brain in weird, pleasant ways and just makes life a little bit more enchanted. No matter what your talent level, novel writing is a low-stress, high-rewards hobby.”
Naturally, these novels are mostly not any good, but they are “finished” in the sense that they have been written, instead of being talked about or thought about for years. Baty says too many people are “one day” novelists, as in “one day I’ll write a novel,” but that day never comes. With Baty’s encouragement (and the help of thousands of others, if you choose to write yours during November) your someday can be right around the corner.
But if you need a little more than advice, the novel-writing kit gives you some excellent tools to help you, including a novel-writing contract, a chart for your progress (and gold stars to put on days when you meet your goals), coupons to give to friends who will make you do chores if you don’t meet your goals, even a cool “novelist” button and a pack of cards to give you inspiration and a daily pep-talk during your noveling adventure. These tools might not make the actual writing any easier, but it will make it a lot more fun. And that’s what NaNoWriMo is really all about.
Sarah E. White is a freelance writer and editor living in Arkansas. She’s successfully completed three novels in three NaNoWriMo challenges, and pathetically washed out last year. She hopes to do better this year with the help of these tools! Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finalist in 2006 Writer’s Digest Best Writer’s Website Contest
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