Lots of things come to mind when you say “autumn.” Leaves. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Family. Hoodie weather. Windchill. The impending threat of Christmas tunes on the radio.
For me, and like, half a million other people at least, it’s new notebooks and fresh word documents and a bunch of “oh my god, what are we doing?”
November, dear friends, is National Novel Writing Month.
I first heard about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in eleventh grade. A couple of my writer friends were a lot more stressed than usual, and typing things more furiously than usual.
“Forget you had a paper due?” I asked one of them. She shook her head, not taking her eyes off her screen.
“NaNoWriMo,” she said simply.
“Nano who now?”
“National Novel Writing Month. It’s where you write an entire novel in a month. It starts in like, a week, and I’m not ready at all.”
I blinked a few times. A month dedicated to writing? That was right up my alley. So I googled it. Turned out, there was an entire site dedicated to it. It was run by a nonprofit organization, and they provided you with forums, local events run by volunteers, You had to write 50,000 words in 30 days, which averages to 1,667 words in a day. Easy peasy, I told myself. I was absolutely positive that I’d written at least that much when I was younger, back before I’d decided I wanted to write short stories instead of feature-length books. I could make an exception. In the spirit of writing. I’d have it done in, like, two weeks, tops.
Wrong. Wrong wrong wrongity wrong wrong. I hardly lasted two weeks as it was. Looking back on my first year, my stats were abysmal. I topped out at 13,105 words, and through the entire month, my daily average was 436 words. A day. I’ve written essays with more words than that in one day. It was abysmal. I can’t even remember what my plot was; all I know is I named it “Promethia’s Young Women’s Institute.”
I was beaten, but not dead. I decided to throw myself at the challenge the following year, and I started my new novel, “Dragonfire.” Man, this was a good idea, and if I wasn’t so sick of trying to re-write it, I’d love to, y’know, re-write it. It was about this girl, Adia, who found out dragons were not, in fact, extinct, and in fact, had to go defeat “The Dragon Queen” who was controlling the dragons and making them evil and all that jazz. She paired up with a witch, and eventually, two knights, one of which was an ex thief. I never got to write them in, however; I lost this year, too. I did get over 24,000 words though, so I did a lot better than the year before. I remember eating Thanksgiving at my mom’s friend’s house, then escaping to a dark, uninhabited room and writing as much as I could. My mom was thankfully very understanding; she didn’t bother me until it was time to eat dessert. This was also the year my best friend refused to read anything of mine that was unfinished; “I loved this stupid story, Senna, and you’re not even going to finish it. That’s not fair.”
This past year, I was in college, and found a good group of friends I could write with at like midnight up in our campus coffee house. It was great. We would do word sprints, the food was always good, and there was so much banter you couldn’t believe it. Of course, this was the year that I decided to outline my entire novel; I usually get a general idea and then write, rather than plotting things out ahead of time. But I had this wonderful idea that I just had to get down on paper before NaNo started, meaning I outlined it. And as I was writing, I got so bored of it. My characters seemed flat and lifeless compared to the characters of anything else I’d written; they would help me forge the way for the story, adding in their own quips and sass. These new characters were just playing the part I’d set forth for them, unable to deviate form the plan I’d made ahead of time. I tapped out at 12,000 words, and I haven’t touched the story since.
This year? This year, I am super stoked to get started. This year, I’m back to writing as I go with a rough idea. I even made my own cover this year. Of course, I’ll be juggling a full-time job this year as well, but hopefully that’ll just mean bursts of creativity at night and on my days off. Or I’ll get to write on my lunch break a lot. Either way, I’m really, super duper excited.
Want to join me and write a novel yourself? Click here!