All I can think as I begin to write this article is that I’m losing valuable time. If it takes me thirty minutes to write the article – let’s be generous and say forty-five – then I only have so much time to reach my quota. Though, it’s only Day 1 so I really should go above the quota in preparation for Week 2, but then I have even more words to write before tonight when I have to leave for this party… man, I love this month.
Let me give you all a brief summary of why this month is so wonderful. November 1st signals the beginning of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), an annual event where writers across the world put pens to the paper or fingers to the keyboard in an attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Now, to put that in context, the Great Gatsby (a familiar book to all those who’ve taken LEII) is just shy of 50,000 words. While it might appear to be a slim novel to some, actually putting down so many words in a short time span is extremely challenging. NaNoWriMo can be unpleasantly similar to having several 8-page papers due during the same week, and that’s on good days. On bad days, finding any sort of dialogue or description to put on the page is nearly torturous.
But you’ll have to forgive me. Around this time of year, I’m in the mood to be loquacious (you can’t imagine how much it helps your word count to use 50 words where a couple will do). Yet it’s not entirely fair to focus my word-spewing on the less-than-lovely components of the event. Every year, I try to explain to my friends why anyone would undertake such a madcap adventure voluntarily. Most of them understand that it’s some quirky thing I do because I’m out of my mind. Many of them don’t see what I see: a community that I love being a part of. Whether it’s within the diverse group at IMSA, led by Mrs. Townsend this year, or random people around the globe, we are all brought together by a common interest – getting that novel banging around in our brains down on paper.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the more materialistic rewards that come with participating in NaNoWriMo. While there’s no cash reward for winning (I can only wish), NaNoWriMo does partner with other businesses to offer discounted services to winners. Some of the prizes are two free paperback copies of your finished book from CreateSpace, a free manuscript review from Lulu.com, or even a 30% off publishing package from BookCountry. And it goes without saying that, at the end of the month, you’ll have a novel you can call your own. A novel. There are some amazing bragging rights – and some definite possibilities of getting yourself published – that come along with that.
If everyone at school could participate in NaNoWriMo, I would be incredibly excited. But for the people who’ve decided that they don’t want to participate directly, there’s always the option of getting involved in other ways. For example, you can sponsor a writer by making a donation to the NaNoWriMo foundation. If you are a little strapped for cash, you can use this time to start preparing for next year. “How do you do that?,” you might ask. It’s simple: you read. More specifically, you read books that are the results of NaNoWriMo success stories. If you’re interested, check out The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern or Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. After all, if they can turn 50,000 words into published works, why can’t you?
As you ponder whether or not to visit nanowrimo.org and sign up, I’ll get back to my own novel. The 664 words in this article, while well-chosen, aren’t adding to my word count, and I have a long way to go before my goal of 50,000 words is in sight.