Yesterday started the month long writing challenge for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). You have 30 days to complete a 50,000 word novel. And I am already at 1500. Doesn't seem like a lot right now, but it will add up nicely as the month progresses.
NaNoWriMo was founded in 1999 by 21 writers in California and is now run by The Office of Letters and Light, a nonprofit organization based in Oakland. People participate from all over the United States and all over the world.
According to their website, www.nanowrimo.org, “NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.”
I first learned of this about two weeks ago from a posting by an author I follow on Facebook. I went to NaNoWriMo's website, registered, and hit the ground writing. When I first heard about the write a novel in a month challenge, I thought it would be awesome to attempt it. I figured it was something I could try and if I didn't succeed, so what. I was only doing it for myself anyway. But once I registered, I realized what I was doing, what pressure I was putting on myself and began to worry that I wasn't up to the task. According to the website, you want to aim at writing at least 1667 words a day to reach the 50,000 word total by November 30, which can be a daunting task once you get started. And of course, you have that blank page in front of you to begin with and that is always intimidating. But the good part is, once you register, you get emailed pep talks encouraging you to work through your fears and just write. And some locations even have local groups that meet face to face and write together as well as encourage each other to keep writing.
The main bit of advice you receive, which I feel is the most important, is also the hardest for me to follow. And that is to just write. Reserve any editing for December 1. Don't go back and change anything just write on. This is something I've always had difficulty with. When I read over something I wrote, I always begin editing, even before some of my thoughts and scenes are complete. This is the barrier I am working on during this challenge, to just sit down and write and forego any editing until I've reached my goal.
Though nervous, I am looking forward to this challenge. With a cup of hot tea or six and my trusty computer in front of me, I accept this writing challenge with gusto!
(Lorie Mink of Pangburn is the Editor for The Sun-Times. Her column appears here each Friday. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org)