National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a challenge among writers to create an entire novel in the month of November. There are a ton of YouTube channels and blogs that share tips about how to tackle the project, plus a whole website detailing the purpose and ideas behind NaNoWriMo (including the number crunching that tells you just how many words you must write a day to complete the challenge and “win” NaNoWriMo).
What I’m up to this month:
I’m not a novelist. I hope one day to write a few books, but I am a long way off from being ready to start a project as big as a novel. I haven’t quite learned how to use plot, and I don’t have any ideas that seem like they would take an entire 50,000-80,000 words to dig into and develop. I prefer reading shorter works for the most part anyway, so I imagine that when I do write a book it’ll be a novella, collection of poetry, and/or a brief non-fiction compilation.
Regardless of all my hang ups with writing a book, I have always been enthralled with the idea of NaNo, so much so that I’ve been tempted to undergo the challenge not just in November but during other months and without so much as a character name to write down.
This year, I decided on a different approach. In November, I will write something every day. I’m allowing myself to switch between mediums. I’m will write poetry, blog post, short stories, brief non-fiction essays, and make revisions to anything I’ve written in the past. I count revisions toward my goal because I do significant rewrites on everything I work on, so it involves plenty of new writing alongside the editing, and it works some revision into my month so that I don’t just have 30 new pieces to revise once November is over. Pretty much, I can do what I want without feeling guilty as long as I write something everyday. To me that’s a recipe for success.
So far, NaNo has consisted of me writing a lot of poems on my phone, in bed, with all the lights off. That has been the easiest way to get it done, and I like several of the things I’ve come up with just by free writing on my notes app. I’ve written everything on my “allowed” list other than a short story, and 99% of what I’ve written has been trash which is fine by me. The real point is to get the ideas down so that in revision I can muse with more direction because I already know what the point or theme of the piece is. I tend to like that kind of writing even more than the initial brainstorming.
Thinking about NaNo gets me stoked, and to be completely honest, I’ve been energized about writing the last few months just in general. Even more so than normal. It's exciting and rewarding to really dig into my writing this year. I think putting my own spin on NaNo has helped me bypass the anxiety and stress that a lot of other NaNoers are dealing with right now as we approach the halfway point. But still, if you’re one of those people, I want to encourage you to keep going! You’re capable and awesome. I know you can do it. I can’t wait to read your book someday.
If you’re putting a spin on NaNo, you should let me know how you’re feeling about the whole process. Let’s chat about it. To learn more about NaNoWriMo, check out the website (https://nanowrimo.org/).