National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) occurs every November. Since 2011, I have participated four times with my sixth grade students. While my goal was always 50,000 words, going along with the adult site, my students set their own goals with NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program. When they finished editing their novels in December, I published an anthology of their work. Every year it was worth it to see the look on their faces when they held a real book in their hands with something they wrote.
Each November, hundreds of thousands of writers buckle down and write. Not all of them finish novels, but they all make great headway. Hundreds of NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. They include Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder. Others, like mine, were self published after many months of editing. NaNoWriMo isn’t a factory for finished novels. It’s a way to break the creative block and get words flowing. The shaping of the story can take place later.
NaNoWriMo’s website offers a place for novelists to gather and encourage each other. Pep talks from successful authors like Gene Luen Yang, John Green, and Veronica Roth also encourage Wrimos, as we are called. It’s all about pumping out the words. Editing and revising can come later! Judgements like “It’s not good enough” can come later! Right now it’s about freeing the words from the mind.
It’s empowering to write a novel in a month. Whether it goes on to become a bestseller or is just for you, it’s something to be proud of. I’ve completed 50,000 words every time I participated in NaNoWriMo, except once. One year my carpal tunnel was so bad I just couldn’t type enough. Spoken word programs are frustrating in their slowness. Now, though, the carpal tunnel is under control.
This year, my goal is to finish the first draft of my current novel in progress. I should be able to do that with 50,000 words. If I can’t, the novel will need a lot of trimming since I’m already, before November, at over 40,000 words. I have a rough outline of what I want to do with the story, and on November 1 I wrote my first 1,667 words. Off to a good start!
If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this month, and would like to friend me on the site, I’m L Ulleseit. Let’s encourage each other to write a novel!
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