It’s late October, which means we are just a little over a week away from November 1st and the start of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2019. I know that NaNo is a bit of a controversial topic at times among writers, so I’ll just make my stance perfectly clear right now: I love NaNo, and nothing and no one will change my mind about that fact. I mean I do understand why some people don’t like it and don’t participate, to a point anyway, but I’m definitely pro novel writing month and I think that people who want to participate should do so with gusto.
I started participating in NaNo in 2005, and the only year I’ve skipped out of fourteen was 2008. Some projects have been really good and I’ve polished them up after the fact, while others were total failures that I never even finished. My attempts have been more prolific in recent years, as my two currently published books and one that is in editing to be published this winter were all written during the month of November. The deadline is a big motivating factor for me, as is working with groups of writers toward a common goal. I see nothing at all wrong with strong motivation if it leads to a good finished product.
I wrote the first draft of Endless Numbered Days during NaNoWriMo 2009. The book didn’t get published for several years, and I spent that in between time writing other works and editing the novel. A Crooked Mile was written for NaNoWriMo 2017 and its sequel, A Different Shade of Blue, was written last year in 2018. I consider A Crooked Mile and Blue to be two of the best things I’ve written, a lofty comment coming from a very self-deprecating author. There are even novels I started during NaNo that I have just recently completed or have on reserve to complete in the coming months. I just recently finished Bookish, which started as a full length NaNo novel in 2012, and I just redid the outline and research for The House At the End of the Lane, which I started in November of 2014.
There is just something inspiring about writing an entire novel in the month of November, and knowing that people all across the globe are doing the same thing. A lot of folks who turn up for the event only write in November, setting aside that particular month to make their writing dreams come true. Others, like myself, write all year round but use November for an additional push to get something together even if it is just a very rough first draft. It’s more than just putting words down too, it’s an entire community of like minded people who can share their thoughts, frustrations, words of wisdom, triumphs, and failures. That, I think, is what makes it such an extraordinary thing. It lets you know that you aren’t alone, and that there are so many others out there just like you who are going through the same thing.
I’ve already started researching my novel for this November, and I have the layout all ready and waiting for me to dive in. I’m excited for write-ins and word sprints with my friends, and meeting new people on the NaNo message boards. I can’t wait to see how my novel this year takes shape, and if I’ll struggle more than in recent years. It’s a novel based in both the past and the present, so I think the history chapters will slow me down a bit more than I’m used to. I’m excited for the challenge though, and I’m just excited to get to do it again this year.
No matter how you feel about NaNoWriMo, for a lot of us it’s an exercise in how far we can push ourselves as writers. For all of you participating this year, I wish you the best of luck! Don’t get down if you find yourself falling behind, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t finish in 30 days. The important thing is to get your ideas in motion, to start working on the story you want to write. If any of you wish to friend me on nanowrimo.org my username is Sammah, and I’d love to be buddies with you to help cheer you on!
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