It’s hard to imagine that any lover of literary lore hasn’t heard of NaNoWriMo, but hey…the truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.
NaNoWriMo, short National Novel Writing Month, is billed by it’s non-profit sponsors, the Office of Letters and Light, as “30 days and nights of literary abandon!” You may abandon a lot of things during the National Novel Writing Month of November–healthy meals, sufficient sleep, non-writing-related school work, maybe even take leave of your senses–in your drive to scribe 50,000 words in 30 days, but for lovers of the written word, this is a challenge that’s hard to pass up. And if 50K words sounds unattainable and you happen to be 17 or under, fret not! The NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program allows you to tailor your own ambitious word goal.
The rules state that you can’t begin writing until November 1 and must reach your target word count by 11:59 p.m. November 30th, BUT if the challenge tempts you like a double-dog-dare there are plenty of things you can do NOW to increase your odds of success.
- Choose your Challenge–Go to the adult site or young writers’ site and get signed up. You even get a cool web badge that you can add to your social media. Nothing like having all your friends ask how it’s going to encourage you as you write.
- Browse through the resources included on each site. The Young Writers Program site has a special Resources tab and a great Dare Machine right on the home page that’ll get you thinking “outside the box.”
- If you need more story ideas, visit OLL’s related Script Frenzy site and try the Plot Machine. Once you quit laughing and groaning, try making your own plot machine by inventing an assortment of settings, characters, and story goals. Happy shuffling!
- When you’ve got an idea…or at least a direction…you ARE allowed to sketch out a rough outline, diagram, or storyboard–anything that will help you pre-shape your story without actually beginning to write it. (I’ve been known to use Post-It Notes on the back of a door so that I can rearrange them as I experiment with sub-plots.)
- Use the NOVELWritingSite archives (listed in the left sidebar) to review past articles on plotting, setting, characterization, goal/motivation/conflict, themes and motifs. Plenty of ideas in there!
If November isn’t a good month for you to undertake the challenge, don’t despair! Camp NaNoWriMo is open year-round, offering an idyllic writer’s retreat smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life (so there’s no excuse for copping out!)
But if there’s even a remote possibility that the NaNoWriMo challenge might, perhaps, just maybe help you get a serious manuscript underway–or even just follow a crazy idea wherever it takes you–why not give is a go? Have fun with this! And once you’ve signed up, leave a comment here so we can all cheer you on!