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Take the Dare!
National Novel Writing Month. Thirty days of craziness, sleepless nights, lots of caffeine, and (of course) 50,000 words!
What is it? Why should I bother? Those were my questions last year when a bunch of my friends disappeared for the month, bricking themselves into their rooms with nothing but cookies, a computer, notebooks, pencils, and fifty gallons of coffee. From November 1st to the 30th, they set out to write 50,000 consecutive words that would theoretically become a novel just in time for the madness to end.
By the time I heard about it, it was around November 10th and (in my opinion) too late to get started. I’d already be behind by some twelve thousand words. Plus, I was currently working on finishing a novel that I had started rewriting way back in August. There was no way I could set that aside for a month. I decided to stay safely on the sidelines. I love my sleep, thank you very much.
But throughout the month, I continued to hear about NaNoWriMo (as it is fondly dubbed by those who choose not to call it The Month of Insomnia Insanity) and my friends’ word count, their characters, and their desperate attempts to find a plot inside the tangled knot of sentences and paragraphs.
It sounded crazy, but they also sounded like they were having fun. They would continually update their word count on the NaNo website and be able to check their statistics on when they would finish, how many words were required per day, and how their word counts compared with that of their writing buddies. They had “word wars” where they would compete with a friend over a certain amount of time (fifteen minute, or even an hour) and see who had written the most over that period.
The best part was how proud they were of themselves in the end. Not all of them made it to 50,000 words, but at the end of the month, each had a good half of a novel written. No small accomplishment.
So when this October rolled around and I began to hear about NaNoWriMo again, I decided to give it a shot. I began writing character descriptions and outlines of my plot so that I had a general idea of what to write. I signed up on the NaNo website and, at 7AM November 1st, I began working on my 50,000 words.
So far it’s going great and I’m so glad that I’ve tried it! 25k, halfway there. I might get bogged down in the middle once I have to catch back up in homework, or clean my room for the first time in a month, or take a break and allow myself more than seven hours of sleep per day, but it’s something that only comes once a year. I’ll catch up on everything in December.
And now the question. Should you try it? Totally! If you like to write and don’t mind going just a little insane for thirty days, then you’ve got both the qualifications needed to become a NaNoWriMo author.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the time or feel like you aren’t prepared to write a novel in a month. NaNo is about pure quantity. It doesn’t matter if you spend thirty days writing the worst dialog, the lamest plot, and the most laughable characters in the world. November is about writing. Not writing poetry or the next Lord of the Rings, but writing words.
Once you finish (whether you reached your goal or not), you take December off. Catch up on sleep, clean your room, do all the homework that’s stacked up. In January, it’s the time to pull out your document and start the process of editing. Come February – hey! You’ve got a novel written and polished!
It may be too late in the month to start now (unless you like a challenge…), but when next November comes creeping up on you, take the dare! Find a stash of cookies (chocolate chip, please!), a computer with some sort of word processor and a word count, plenty of coffee (don’t even think the word decaf), and lock yourself in your room. Give the key to your mother and tell her to let you out on December 1st.
And now, I must return to my room. I’ve got another 1,667 words to write to keep up on my daily count and the time is ticking.
Until December – happy writing and good luck!