November is National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo.org is a website that challenges participants to write at least 50,000 words of a story throughout the month of November— which is difficult, but awesome. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for the last four Novembers, three of which I hit the word count goal. It’s definitely possible to win the challenge (provided you have enough coffee).
Beyond word count, NaNoWriMo is about writing whatever you want to write. It’s about getting your creativity out, and pushing yourself to craft stories that would otherwise never be told. I believe everyone has the power to tell great stories, and this is a wonderful way to start writing whatever it is you want to write. Have you been thinking of a totally rad science fiction tale? Or a murder mystery story, love triangle included? Or a dystopian novel, or a Harry Potter fanfiction? Write it. NaNoWriMo is yours, and no one can tell you what to do.
To hit 50,000 words in one month, the target average words per day is 1,667, which makes the goal seem a lot less scary if you ask me. Because the founders of the challenge want you to succeed in your NaNo journey, the website has great resources. From message boards to pep talk emails from published authors like John Green, Maggie Stiefvater and Lemony Snicket, the website wants to immerse you in the experience of writing every day, knowing that across the globe, thousands of other people are right there, writing with you. Throughout the month, hundreds of people participate in “write-ins” in public places, so meeting up with fellow writers is also an option.
Some of my favorite novels began as NaNoWriMo projects, including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. To me, these books are proof that works of art can come from making yourself sit down and just write. The process of creating a story has to begin somewhere, and this is kind of like putting pressure on coal until it turns into a diamond (which isn’t actually physically possible, but you get the point).
NaNoWriMo has pushed me to write and taught me things about my writing— and myself— that I never would’ve known without taking the challenge. Inspired by authors and fellow writers, this challenge has made me fall in love with writing again each year. This November, I encourage you to try NaNoWriMo. Sit down with a mug, write, and see what messy, amazing things you can create.