By Claire Golden
November is almost over and I am 30,000 words deep in the first draft of a novel. Perhaps you’re already familiar with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a yearly challenge when writers all over the world set out to write a 50,000-word story in a month. I’ve participated every year since I was 15, succeeding some years and falling short others — but every year has been a valuable experience and has taught me so much about myself as a writer and the stories I’m trying to tell.
As the days get shorter and colder, writing is something I to look forward to doing. It gives me purpose. When my own life is stressful, disappearing into another world is exactly the break I need. Discovering NaNo turned November from a month I dread into my favorite event of the year. It’s an amazing feeling to take a story that only existed in my head and turn it into something on paper…even if the first draft is completely terrible. That’s the point of a first draft! I actually wrote the first draft of my young adult fantasy novel, “Unraveled,” during NaNo. It will be published next month by Gurt Dog Press.
This is the first year that I won’t be in school while doing NaNo, because I graduated (and am now an alumni blogger). But whether in school or working, balancing noveling with everyday responsibilities is difficult. I’ve had less time to watch Netflix and read for fun because I’ve had to devote that time to writing instead. But it’s a good exercise in delayed gratification — if I keep working hard, I will have a novel at the end of the month.
Writing a novel sounds unachievable, until you break it down into small pieces. If you write 1,667 words a day, which takes me just about an hour, you can have a completed book in just a month. Whether you’re a seasoned novelist or have never written for fun before, I encourage you to join us at nanowrimo.org. The best thing about the experience is the community and support. Feel free to add me as a buddy — I’m cog98. I’d love to see you there!