By TJ Lawrence
Now that November is coming up, I’m here to tell you about National Novel Writing Month. (That’s the NaNoWriMo I referred to above; participants are affectionately called WriMos, and it’s in – you guessed it – November.)
NaNoWriMo is a bit of a challenge. It requires you to set your own bar high. For adults, 50,000 words in a month is the preset goal. For people under 18, there is a separate site, where any goal – from just 1,000 words to 100,000 words – can be chosen. For some, the pressure to reach your goal is stimulating. NaNo definitely encourages commitment. Commitment to your ideas and your abilities, no matter if you produce a polished novel or 80 double-spaced pages of ‘word vomit’ that you will eventually have to rewrite. (< me)
If you’ve been struggling to write your book/script/fic/etc. on your own, the best thing about NaNoWriMo is that it makes you feel less alone. There are supportive writers’ chats, places you can get storytelling tips, revision centers… and all of them are full of people who are having problems just like you are. Wrote your main squad into a corner? Yeah, somebody else probably stuck them in a lava temple with zombie alligators and forgot the secret exit was blocked. Just can’t kill someone off? There are dozens of messy, tear-filled posts about dealing with that. Writer’s block? Every single person on the site has probably been there. If they already fixed their problem, you can get tips on how to solve your issue. And if they are still stuck, you may be able to help them, giving you that wonderful, fuzzy good-deed-for-the-day feeling and establishing your ‘blog cred’ as a helpful individual.
NaNoWriMo YWP (the under-18 version) launched a redesigned site in time for November of last year. It has a cool writing interface that automatically logs your words (make sure to save your work somewhere else too, though) and can bring up writing prompts to get you started for the day. And you can use the site any month of the year – although November is when the party really gets started. In addition to help blogs and character workshops, there are also chats about fandoms, roleplays, and additional miscellaneous randomness. Famous authors (John Green, Lois Lowry, etc.) provide short and extremely encouraging pep talks to keep you going until midnight, Nov. 30.
But NaNoWriMo is just the beginning of your book. It kick-starts your feeling of accomplishment, of actually getting something done, of creating an entirely new world, character, plot, or whatever you want! Doing NaNo was worth it for me because I learned to believe in myself and in my imagination. I will continue writing about Cory and Marie and Dennis and all of my other new characters. I know who they are, and what they will do, and soon the rest of the world will too. But the point of NaNoWriMo, for everyone, is that you start. You try! You are doing it, and there’s no point to hesitation. After NaNo, you will have more hard work to get through. But NaNoWriMo lets you know that you can work hard, on time, and create whatever kind of story you put your imagination into.