November is National Novel Writers Month, NaNoWriMo for short, and every year thousands of writers participate in a program to write a novel in November. Not only can it be done, it can be life-altering.
I'd always hoped to write a novel, but after many starts it always landed on the back burner. The beauty of NaNoWriMo is that it provides a way to beat both the mental and circumstantial blocks that get in the way of writing. It starts with a commitment to write 50,000 words in November which adds up to about 190 pages. To get there I must write 1666.6 words a day. They don’t have to be good words. It doesn’t have to compare to Hemingway. I just have to write. I can go back next month and fix whatever I don’t like.
It sounds hard and it is, but writers get support in several ways. The NaNoWriMo website provides pep talks from literary icons, forums to discuss issues and get help, and daily emails to help keep on track. Local groups have write-ins where writers assemble and work together. We host write-ins at the library on Tuesday nights featuring writing sprints, prompts to stir creativity as well as snacks, prizes and camaraderie.
What’s the point of writing a novel in a month if it's bad? First, it is a lot easier to edit a bad novel into a good one than it is to write a good one on the first try. Secondly, you will establish a writing habit and learn a great deal about yourself and how you write in the process. Lastly your "bad" novel might end up being pretty good. Hundreds of novels written during Nanowrimo end up getting published. Have you ever heard of Water for Elephants? or The Night Circus? Both bestsellers started as NaNoWriMo novels (and were also Des Plaines book discussion titles).
These novels in our library collection started as NaNoWriMo’s (click here for a complete list of all published NaNoWriMo novels)