I’ve been staring at a blank document for 2 weeks trying to write this blog post and my God if that isn’t a metaphor for how November is probably going to go, I don’t know what is.
I guess the best way to start this is at the beginning. NaNoWriMo entered my life the summer going into my senior year of high school, at creative writing camp. I was surrounded by people who were my age who wanted to do the same thing I did – write and tell stories – for a month, and I met amazing writers, as well as writers who had so many more experiences than I did.
Their high schools had creative writing classes, they did workshops on the weekends, and they were writing novels in a month. When I heard about that last one, I paused. “Wrote a novel in a month?” I asked, dumbfounded because what? How?
“Yeah, haven’t you heard of NaNoWriMo?”
Not wanting to seem out of the loop I snorted a very unconvincing “of course” and changed the subject. That night though, I fervently Googled what I thought was the spelling of this jumble of letters. Thankfully, because Google is smarter than I was, Google knew what I was talking about and brought me to their website. NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, the objective? By midnight of November 30th, you would have written 50 thousand words of the first draft of your novel.
Oh. That sounded cool. Really, really cool. Also right up my alley. I’m a writer, I can write a novel in a month! So I very quickly created an account and when NaNoWriMo was brought up again, I announced that I too was participating.
Word to the wise: Don’t decide that the first time you’re going to ‘write a novel in 30 days’ is when you’re also trying to apply to colleges and pass senior year of high school. On midnight of November 1st that year I thought “I can do this! …when I wake up because I’ve been spending a lot of time working on college applications and I’m tired.” November 1st turned to November 2nd and there was less time working on my novel and more time stressing about tests and what would happen if I didn’t get into the school I applied Early Decision to? By November 4th, I had completely forgot about NaNoWriMo and focused completely on the stress of becoming a real life person by the end of the year.
So safe to say that the first year of NaNoWriMo didn’t end in a novel for me, but hey. I knew about it now! Next year I’d do it for sure!
Fast forward to my junior year of college, where I thought: This year. This year would definitely be my year. I’m writing a novel. And yes, I definitely tried to write a novel. But, once again, by the fourth I had given up, having to put the novel on the back burner while I worked on projects and studied for finals.
And I’m guessing you know where this is going: I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year.
This year, I’m putting the failed years behind me and using them to my advantage. In the past I decided to go into the month blind. November 1st would be the first day I consider the plot of my novel. Fun fact: That didn’t work out. I don’t know if you have ever sat in front of a computer screen and out of the blue decided “okay self: write a completely original story. New characters, something great.” Nine times out of ten, I would spend an hour staring at the screen because I had no idea what to write about.
So this year, I found out about something called Preptober. Basically, the name says it all, people writing novels in November set everything up in October so on November 1st they don’t need to deal with the specifics like plot and character outlines, they could start writing the actual meat of the story. Hearing about ways other writers have prepared their novels in October, I created a bullet journal for my novel. I’ll end up going into details of what I put into it in another blog post, but basically I use it for word count tracking (the minimum number of words to write per day in November to hit 50K by the end of the month is 1,667), character profiling, world building, etc.
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably asking ‘why are you saying all of this?’ And the short answer is: accountability.
If I post an announcement saying that I’m doing NaNoWriMo, I’m more likely to try it. This year I’m hoping that since I’ve graduated and don’t have to worry about writing papers and dealing with final exams that I’ll definitely go further than before, and prepping my novel beforehand will definitely help. If you found this story riveting, tune into my blog every week in November for updates on how I’m doing in NaNoWriMo, and whether I actually succeeded in my quest to write a novel or not.
Are you doing NaNoWriMo? Add me as a writing buddy! Have you done NaNo before? Let me know in the comments!