If you’re a writer or a writing teacher, you’ve probably heard of National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo. Every November, writers around the world attempt the big, audacious goal of writing a 50,000-word novel in a month. These drafts are not meant to be New York Times best sellers, but rather messy drafts full of plot holes and gaps that will be filled in and shaped later. In other words, these drafts are a starting point.
I’ll be honest. I’ve never “won” NaNoWriMo by hitting 50K words. But when I commit to to the process (as I am this year in an attempt to finish a middle grade historical fantasy), I always write more than I would otherwise. A lot of writing is overcoming resistance and excuses that keep us from getting started. For me, those excuses are things like “but I haven’t done all the research,” or “I haven’t finished my plot outline.” Honestly, I could ALWAYS spend more time researching or outlining and never put a single word on the page. Who’s with me there?
Yet once I overcome my internal resistance and start writing, I know it’s easier to keep writing. For me, that’s what NaNoWriMo is about — finding that inertia (a writer in motion stays in motion). Maybe it’s just for a month, but sometimes that inertia carries me into December or at least until I run into a big fat editorial deadline.
Bottom line, NaNo is about finding the motivation and the time to get the words down on the page so you have something to work with later. And it can be incredibly useful even if you aren’t writing a novel.
So here’s your challenge…Find a length of time — a month or even just a week — grab a few writing friends, and commit to writing something every day. Here are some ideas to get you started.:
- Set a timer and write something (anything) for 15 minutes a day. Put an x on your calendar each day you do.
- If you’re a picture book writer or illustrator, work on one two-page spread each day.
- Write a poem every day, just to flex your writing muscles.
- If you’re at the revision stage, why not commit to revising a chapter a day for a month?
- OR hit whatever your daily word count goal is (for me, it’s 1,000 a day each weekday).
Anything you do is progress.
The NaNoWriMo website has some wonderful resources for preparing to write a novel, which you can use all year long. You’ll find them here.
And if you are a teacher working with young writers, NaNo has a Young Writers Program with writing challenges throughout the year. Learn more and sign your class up here.
If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year, please let me know. I’ll be cheering you on!