I make no secret of the fact that I love books, and I love reading. I often visit bookshops knowing I won’t be buying anything, but just wanting to browse, to enjoy experiencing an environment where so many stories are waiting to be discovered. I also find myself frequently lingering at the space where my own stories would be shelved if ever they were written and published. The trouble is, if you’re anything like me, you may need a little push to actually turn ideas into words, and that’s where NaNoWriMo comes in.
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in November and has been going on in one form or another since 1999. It is now an international event, and in 2012 over 300 000 aspiring novelists participated.
The goal is simple: you have 30 days to write a 50 000 word novel. That’s it. It’s no more complicated that that. Of course, 50 000 words seems like a daunting task for any period of time, let alone just one month, but if you break down the figures it is an average of 1667 words per day. As students used to dashing out a 2000 word essay in the final hours before a deadline, this is definitely doable!
The idea is to cut out the inner critic and just write, without over-thinking, without editing, and at the end of the month you should have a good starting point for your novel; by getting your ideas down in words, you should at least have something to work with.
One of the best things NaNoWriMo has to offer is the sense of community. There is a thriving population of writers offering support and guidance in the online forums, as well as prompts, ‘word wars’ (competitions to see who can write the biggest number of words within a specific time frame), and other challenges to keep you motivated. Participating in NaNoWriMo allows you to benefit from having other people attempting the same task as you. It’s like a big virtual writing group! There are also local events and meet-ups throughout the month, turning the solitary activity of writing into a social one.
So if you’ve always wanted to write a novel, then what are you waiting for?
by Teresa Gale