Have you noticed my “winner” badge on the right of this post? Here’s the story behind it.
When I met Bambi last year, we started exchanging letters and Facebook messages because we live quite a distance apart and both have pretty busy lives. In one letter, she mentioned something called NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. She was thinking of taking part herself and wanted to know if I’d be getting involved.
...how could I not?!
NaNoWriMo is held every year in November. I’m not really sure why it’s still called “National”, since from what I’ve heard, people from every continent take part... but far be it from me to complain. I really admire the team at NaNoWriMo in everything they do, and I’m pretty sure InNoWriMo wouldn’t have quite the same ring to it...
Basically, the challenge is to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days throughout November. It’s a huge challenge, but it can be broken up into semi-manageable chunks of 1,666 words a day. This is just a guideline though—if you want to try and pull it off in five days or whatever, then be my guest! The website gives you a load of help to track your progress: you can enter your word count each day and it shows your progress on a graph so you can see yourself climbing toward your target!
All you have to do to be classified a “winner” is to write the 50,000 words. You enter them in to NaNo’s official word counter when you’re done and boom! Win! It doesn’t matter what you write about, how much of your novel you get done, or even if it makes any sense! Sometimes I think that you can be judged by quantity, not quality. Writing is a learning process for everyone and there really is no “right” or “wrong” way to do it. The more you write, the more you improve. The novel I worked on is nowhere near finished, but I did manage to write those 50,000 words. Even if none of them make it into the final draft, I got to know my characters so well and the plot made some dramatic changes.
Honestly, when you’re sitting there wondering why nothing in your novel will work out, wondering if you’ll ever get it finished, there’s only one way to solve that: sit down and write. That’s what NaNoWriMo encourages you to do: when something isn’t working, you really don’t have a choice in November but to plough through with the story anyway. Once you come out the other end you might have an answer—or at least you’ll have learned what not to do.
I can’t say it’s the best idea in the world to put yourself under pressure, but I always do that anyway. November last year I had copious amounts of studying and I was playing Donna in a school production of Mamma Mia! But I still found time almost every day to write. It just goes to show what you can do. I don’t think I’ll take part this year due to my exams, but the thing about NaNoWriMo is that even if you don’t get your 50,000 words done (I almost didn’t!), it still opens a lot of doors. Every single word you write will be of benefit in some way—especially when you’re not worrying about editing every second. The website also has lots of other features, like tips and advice as well as forums where you can chat to other writers about problems or experiences—and you can pick any username and don’t include many personal details, so you don’t need to worry about “stranger danger”!
Go to www.nanowrimo.org to find out more about taking part! I’ll post a few of my own tips and tricks for November very soon!