November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, the world’s largest writing event and non-profit literary crusade. Participants pledge to write 50,000 words in a month, starting from scratch and reaching “The End” by the 30 November. There are no judges, and no prizes – just the satisfaction of having that “one day” novel down on paper.
More than 650 regional volunteers in more than 60 countries will hold write-ins, including the Christchurch region. Write-ins are hosted in coffee shops, bookstores, and libraries, and offer a supportive environment and surprisingly effective peer pressure – turning the usually solitary act of writing into a community experience. Although the event emphasises creativity and adventure over creating a literary masterpiece, more than 90 novels begun during NaNoWriMo have since been published, including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and Cinder by Marissa Meyer, all #1 New York Times Best Sellers.
What advice does the NaNoWriMo team have for budding novelists? The trick to getting across the 50k mark in November is about persistence and trusting yourself:
But I’ve never done anything like this before! I have no idea how to write a novel…
It’s okay not to know what you’re doing. You’ve read a lot of novels, so you’re completely up to the challenge of writing one. You may feel more comfortable outlining your story ahead of time – if so, do it! But it’s also fine to just wing it. Write every day, and a book-worthy story will appear, even if you’re not sure what the story might be right now.
How can I get to 50k when I have to go back and correct all my spelling mistakes and terrible grammar?
Do not edit as you go. Editing is for December and beyond. Think of November as an experiment in pure output. Even if it’s hard at first, leave ugly prose and poorly written passages in the page to be cleaned up later. Your inner editor will be very grumpy about this, but your inner editor is a nitpicky jerk who foolishly believes that it is possible to write a brilliant first draft if you write it slowly enough. It isn’t.
It’s a big commitment. How can I stay motivated?
First, sign up to the forums at http://www.nanowrimo.org. It’s a community of encouraging, likeminded novelists who want you to win as much as you do. Second, come to a few “write-ins.” These are meetings of fellow Wrimos during November, either at a cafe, bookstore or library. It’s a time to meet, chat, encourage one another – but most of all, write! Finally, tell everyone you know that you’re writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing stopping you from quitting is the fear of looking like a quitter in front of all the people who’ve had to hear about your magnum opus.
For more information on National Novel Writing Month visit www.nanowrimo.org or to contact a Christchurch Municipal Liaison email Vanessa email@example.com