National Novel Writing Month, abbreviated as NaNoWriMo, is a month long literary gauntlet to write a novel in 30 days. The specific number of words to write is 50,000 over the course of 30 days, which is an average of 1,667 words per day if you write every day of the month. I do not. In fact, I'm usually off to a slow start, freeze up in panic about the middle of the month, and race to the finish line. Almost every time. That's just my style, and my own personal writing problem. Everyone can write a novel in 30 days. That means you. I could tell you, but I'm better with visuals. So I've included a gallery of the past 3 years of NaNoWriMo and one side project from CampNaNoWriMo--a smaller version of National Novel Writing Month where I set my goal at 25,000 words in 30 days. You can see for yourself what it took me to write a novel over the past 3 years, and I'll tell you a little about my story this year.
For 2014 I've set a goal of 50,000 words in what was meant to be a Young Adult, comedy adventure. I went to my local midnight Kick Off party (local chapters of the NaNoWriMo groups get together to begin the month in-person or online), and I started writing.
And immediately didn't like it. This is not unusual for me. I went home that night and I didn't even save my document. I had a good start, probably close to 1,000 words. All gone.
And then I waited. November 2nd rolled around, then November 3rd. It took me 3 cups of coffee until I finally started to formulate another version of my NaNoWriMo masterpiece.
I outline lightly; no detailed bulletins, no character descriptions, nothing that organized. In fact, I usually only keep snippets of dialogue to guide me. This was the first scene that I wrote on November 3rd that helped me layout some of the goofiness of the upcoming story:
“That's a dragon!”
“That's a pizza!”
Suzi blinked and arched a skeptical eyebrow. It wasn't that skeptical, the dragon was sitting right there in the freezer with his tail stuck in the door. But still.
“Who calls a dragon a pizza? We eat pizzas.”
“You eat those things? You must be a land of brave warriors, indeed.” The strange boy bowed, the feathers on his helmet brushed the ground and were covered in marinara sauce.
“No, we don't eat... dragons. We eat pizzas. That--” Suzi pointed to the freezer door, which was now starting to shake as the dragon tried to remove his tail. “is a dragon.”
“There are no such things as dragons.”
My loose premise originally was a girl (now a first year college student in my updated version) was working at her part-time job making pizzas, and she ran out of ingredients. She searched the store, entered the "do not enter under any circumstances" bosses office, and found something that looked convincingly like oregano. It turned out to be alchemical components (her bitch of a boss was actually a witch of a boss), and when she threw it down on the pizza in such a way--BOOM--portal to another world. And then a Prince fell out. And then a dragon that looked suspiciously like pizza.
At least, that's the loose plan. I haven't written that far yet.
My point is that anyone can write a novel and it can be anything. I choose to keep mine light, fluffy, a little flirty and adventurous because that's why I like to write. I know people who write short stories (you could write 500 short stories of 1,000 words each, for example); poems, sequels to their existing novels (I did that for NaNoWriMo 2013 and finished the first draft to The Trials of Blood!).
You can even be a #NaNoRebel and write on different projects at once. Technically, I could even include this blog post towards my word count! As long as you are writing, in November, it counts.
You've probably got a better idea that I do at the moment for a novel. So here is where you start:
1. Go to the official National Novel Writing Month website: www.nanowrimo.org
2. Sign up! Choose a Home Region (this will lump you in with the rest of your local writers)
3. Fill out your Novel Information!
4. START WRITING, since you're already behind! Update your word count on the website.
We can be writing buddies, we can help cheer each other on: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/blood_gate_key/
The trick to winning NaNoWriMo is staying focused, not letting yourself get distracted (this blog post is a distraction for me!), being encouraged by friends and family, and NEVER GIVING UP. Deadlines make magic happen. Let it loom over you, let it scare you, then beat the crap out of it. Or trip it and run away, but make sure you run towards the finish line and not away. Easy mistake to do in the dark.
Not sure you can jump in this year? The creator of National Novel Writing Month has a book: No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty. This is the updated and revised version and it runs for about $12 on Amazon (yes, that's my affiliate link you're clicking right there). It's an excellent introduction to the history of NaNoWriMo and it is full of tips and tricks to set up your writing area and to re-arrange your life for 30 creative days.
Do you have specific tips and tricks you'd like to share about how you NaNo? Send them in! I'll happily feature them on this post.
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My personal pre-National Novel Writing Month trick is to make book covers or teaser posters. Nothing makes me more excited than making something visual. Even if it's silly: