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National Novel Writing Month is not for the faint of hand, but it's an incredible writing challenge.
Writing a novel in thirty days is insanity. It’s pure literary madness. However, it teaches you to explore your limits and no matter what anyone says, it’s a solid way to get your first draft down.
I strongly urge all my writer peers to at least attempt National Novel Writing Month, an annual challenge to write the first draft of your novel in just one month. The goal is to tackle a new project from beginning to end and write at least 50,000 words. You’re welcome to write more than that if you can manage to. Of course, it’s not uncommon for people to bend the rules a little bit and pick up a work in progress and aim to crank out 50,000 new words, in addition to what they’ve already got.
Called NaNoWriMo by participants, the non-profit organization that runs the event welcomes writers of all ages from all reasons to take part.
Personal creative projects usually lack something that many writers, myself included, desperately need; a deadline.
If it’s a freelance project or an academic assignment, it’s easier to push yourself to finish it. The procrastinators among us might push it off until the last minute, but we can still finish projects. However, novels are more personal. It’s something that we can easily spend years marinating ideas for. While planning is important, it’s too easy to just keep planning and always put off starting the book.
I participated for the first time in 2010 and have taken part most years since then. I’ve won some years and fell short other years. However, even if I didn’t quite make that target number, I still had a substantial amount of writing that I wouldn’t have made time to complete if it wasn’t for NaNoWriMo.
There are absolutely times when life gets in the way and some people cringe that NaNoWriMo takes place in November. With holidays happening during the month and others on the horizon in December, there are distractions coming if you’re a celebrator. However, if anything, it’s rather fitting to have an event like this during a month that’s already busy. Whether you’re a student or you’re already out in the workforce, life is always busy. There are always holidays, events, and just the general demands of life to deal with.
The truest challenge of being a writer is making time to write despite all of that, no matter what time of the year it is.
Thus, November is a good month for this event. Any added challenge brought on by the time of year it happens is conditioning for writers to keep pushing themselves to write as much as possible and often as possible.
NaNoWriMo can help novelists with every phase of the writing process whether your greatest difficulty lies in getting started, pushing through the slog of the middle of your novel, or capitalizing on an exciting ending. By running through an entire first draft, you get to tackle every challenging phase of writing a book.
If I haven’t sold you on it yet, there are numerous professional, published authors who have drafted their books during National Novel Writing Month. One of my personal favorite authors, sci-fi novelist S.L. Viehl and author of StarDoc, has participated several times. New to the scene sci-fi author Ava Jae, author of Beyond the Red, has also taken part in NaNoWriMo.
It’s not too late to jump in and take part.
We’re only a few days into November, so grab your pen and join in this month of madness.
I recently posted a vlog with tips on getting ready for National Writing Novel Month. If you’ve already started or if you’re ready to jump in, check it out for some tips on getting started.