November is National Novel Writing Month. You can celebrate just by writing or you can participate virtually with others and go for the goal of writing 50,000 words during the month of November, officially known as NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organization that encourages writing year round. They have the Young Writer’s Program, the Come Write In Program, and Camp NaNoWriMo, along with the online November event. Last year over 300,000 people participated and won. Winning is completing the goal of 50,000 words in the 30 day time frame. There are also other prizes offered by the sponsors that include independent publishing deals and software and free membership to online writing communities. The site boasts that “auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers” started writing at the beginning of the month and “walked away novelists.” What they’re saying is that anyone can do it. The idea is to turn your idea for a novel into a rough first draft of a novel. Many professional writers advise that you get a really rough draft down and then revise, edit, and rework it. They say that usually this first draft is bad, but it gets the story and the characters out of you and onto paper. Some novels you may have read started out as a NaNoWriMo submission. “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern and “Water For Elephants” by Sara Gruen began as 50,000 word goals and turned into best-selling novels. Rainbow Rowell was an established, published author with two well-received young adult novels under her belt. She used the NaNoWriMo challenge to jump start her third novel, which became the popular “Fangirl.” She has said it was the bravest writing she has done.

It’s easy and free to participate. You simply go to the website and sign up. Start writing. Upload your novel in intervals as often as you like and it will track your progress and page count. They recommend that you submit a scrambled version to avoid “text thievery,” although they guarantee that the submissions are never read by a human being. It calculates the words and then deletes it. Be active in the NaNoWriMo community and earn badges. You can find writing buddies and converse in the forums for extra support. Find fellow WriMos in your town. Get pep talks from your favorite authors. Nick Hornby, Lois Lowry, Lemony Snicket, and John Green have all provided words of wisdom. If the thought of writing a novel has ever crossed your mind, this is a good place to start. NaNoWriMo offers a nurturing and encouraging environment to give it a try. Are you up for the challenge?


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