Have you written the outline to a novel? How about the first chapter of one, or even a single sentence? Do you dream of characters that don’t exist in real life, and do you give them dilemmas to sort out? Are you worried that your imaginary friends make you seem like a schizophrenic? Not to worry! You’re not alone, and this month there are 290,064* folks just like you that are gathering together in writerly bonding.
November is NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. For those uninitiated to NaNoWriMo, let me be the first to inform you that November just got better. Not only does this month give us the waist expanding excuse to gorge ourselves on savory harvest dishes but it also gives us black Friday and now unfettered access to our own personal writing contest.
As a contestant of NaNoWriMo you have just one goal, 50,000 words by December 1st. Seem overwhelming? Not to worry! The organization behind NaNoWriMo has a team in your hometown that sends out encouraging emails and there are even NaNo Write-In’s. Not to mention great goal
|The coveted NaNoWriMo badges.|
badges to earn along the way so that the uphill climb is just one baby step at a time.
As a professional author I hadn’t thought to enroll in NaNoWriMo in the five years that they’ve been nationally celebrating. That is, until this year. Curious to what all the hype was about, I signed-up (it’s free) and got into the action. Hooooooooooo boy! This contest is a whole lot more than just the plain completion of 50,000 words, it’s the community, the craft and the pure love of words. It’s the Church of Novelists. A place where we lovers of words can come together in annual celebration and craft as one.
From an author’s perspective, I didn’t think NaNoWriMo could offer me anything more than I already knew. I write my novels by the seat of my pants, wiley-niley throwing words down onto paper to form my (as Anne Lamott calls it) shitty first draft. Then I carve and edit until it resembles the thing in my mind. Last to be crafted is the title, synopsis and book cover. As in the day before publication, last. In NaNoWriMo, they’re the first. You set up your profile and without those three things you don’t get a completion badge (these become addicting) and not to mention your profile
|My impromptu book cover, not bad, eh?|
looks like a desert landscape. So bucking with tradition I crafted all three, before I had written the first chapter. And… it was excruciating! Like tossing a 20lb medicine ball against a wall for a half hour – a massive workout. I could feel my brain sweat. The result of this workout wasn’t half bad and if I had to admit it, great for my writing skills.
As I begin the NaNoWriMo journey to the coveted fully badged-out 50,000 words, I realize the contest is more than just for new writers. It is for novelists of all kinds, and the best part is that the only person you’re competing against is yourself. All other participants that you meet-up (online or in person) with are your comrade in arms, and in a line of work that is a solo art form, it’s refreshing.
So, for those of you with characters bouncing around in your creative mind, come join the 290,064 person movement of NaNoWriMo and craft yourself a novel!
Follow Author Becky Banks’ progress through her 50,000 words (and badge collection!) at www.beckybanksonline.com.
About the Author
Becky Banks is the award winning novelist of The Legend of Lady MacLaoch and the contemporary high-octane romance Forged. She writes and lives in Portland, Oregon with her hubby and two pugs. She can be found online at beckybanksonline.com.
* number of NaNoWriMo participants at the time this blog post was written.