National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is here! Each year in November, writer’s from across the globe try to crank out a novel during this month! And this year, I am participating with seriousness!
I first became aware of NaNoWriMo when my younger two boys were in middle school. They were encouraged to participate in the month by their TAG (Talented and Gifted) teacher. Although they are both creative and able to write, neither of them took the challenge.
Now that I consider myself a writer, after publishing a daily blog for five and a half years, becoming a published poet in an anthology by Pomelo Books in 2021, and self-publishing a poetry chapbook on Kindle Direct Press earlier this year, I decided it was time to take the NaNoWriMo plunge this year.
I’ve had a novel idea for years and of late have started to think more and more about the storyline for this book. I’ve discussed it with my husband several times and we both think the idea would make a good story. We differ on some aspects, but I’m the writer, so I’ll do what works for the story.
To prepare for this month, I’ve read several posts on “how to write a novel.” The one I’m currently trying to follow is by John Fox. His blog on the subject, 12 Steps to Writing a Bestselling Novel in Less Than Six Months is helpful.
I think I’m a pantser because basically I’ve got very little outlined and am flying by the seat of my pants, right now. This surprises me because I like to organize my thoughts with an outline or timeline but maybe because this story has been in my head for so long, I’ve done some of the organizing there. I did do a little plotting yesterday, outlining the main idea, main events, timelines, and even how to propel the story. So, maybe I’m a little of both. I think I’ve become more of a pantser due to my blog writing over the last five years. Unless I am researching a topic, such as the role of the Roycroft Campus in the Arts and Crafts movement or other historically based posts, I write off the top of my head. This doesn’t mean I don’t fact-check or substantiate my posts with evidence, I do. But often I am writing about things I already know.
Thus, the NaNoWriMo experience will be different. It is entirely a work of fiction.
I started this morning and in an hour and a half wrote 1,694 words. It is essentially the first chapter of my book, which includes the inciting incident.
One of the problems I saw with encouraging youth in the NaNoWriMo month is this focus on word production. To complete a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days, one has to write 1,667 words per day. Even for a person who writes a daily blog for an average of 500 words or sometimes two blogs a day, committing to over 1,600 words per day is a huge prospect. I think asking middle school-aged children, even gifted ones, to do this is daunting. Personally, I think one needs to do more than put words on the page. There is story synthesis, story arcs, character development, and more to think of when writing a novel. Just because you put 50,000 words in a file by November 30th, doesn’t mean it’s good. But, I guess it is a start.
Today, my writing flowed. I did not have a problem starting this challenge. But I am not enough of a fool to think each day will be like this. I know for a fact it won’t be. The advice from some of what I’ve read is to write while it flows, for there will be days it doesn’t. This is a fact. Also, some days are more commitment heavy than others, so it makes sense to write as much as you can when you can.
My novel is for adults. It is not kidlit. I only mention this so as not to mislead anyone about what I am working on – most of the groups I belong to are kidlit groups. This work puts me in a different group (not better, just different) and I’ve been looking to do that for some time. I’m not abandoning kidlit but I am searching for where my writing has the best fit.
If you are also participating in NaNoWriMo this month, let me know in the comments. Check back and see how I’m doing, and let me know how you’re doing. It will be a challenge for anyone who participates! Below are a few resources I want to share about NaNoWriMo and I linked the JohnFox website above.
Image courtesy of NaNoWriMo
Today is Slice of Life: Tuesday. This forum was created by and hosted by TwoWritingTeachers.org. I have participated since 2017. I am grateful to this organization for creating such a welcoming and supportive community of writers. Thank you!