When November is brought up, most people tend to think of Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving, and consequently, Black Friday shopping, whereby they will be throwing elbows to secure a new gaming device for their child or a new coat for themselves. They think of time spent with family members and consuming copious amounts of savoury turkey, while simultaneously covering themselves in a bathtub of mashed potatoes—all of which are completely and totally acceptable. In fact, not eating until you fall asleep (or throw up) is almost frowned upon in some households. On Thanksgiving, if you’re not screaming at a football team for having no pass rush (I’m looking at you, Dad), opting out of seconds and thirds at the dinner table, or waiting in obscenely long lines the next day, you’re not doing November right.
I can’t argue with anything in the above paragraph because, yes, I do all of these things, but there is one thing that encompasses the entire month of November, not just a single day: writing. A lesser known fact about November is that it is also known as “National Novel Writing Month,” which starts on November 1st at 12:00am and ends November 30th at 11:59pm. During this time, participants attempt to write 50,000 words or more, which averages out to 1,667 words per day. Sprinting past the 10k, leaping over the 25k, and hopefully high-fiving the 50k word mark are accomplishments that are nothing short of amazing.
National Novel Writing Month, or “NaNoWriMo” for short, tests writers in numerous ways as they fight off their inner editor, defeat writer’s block demons, and drive their characters, plot, and ideas forward. They attempt to keep their sanity and caffeine levels in check; however, that is not entirely possible in most cases, due to the fact that participants find themselves lost in the worlds they have created, overtaken by meticulously crafted characters. The more caffeine the better.
Besides meeting new people and sharing a common love for words, participants have the opportunity to create something that belongs entirely to them: their characters with their own quirks, shortcomings, and successes; their plots, a little world they can escape into at any time, no questions asked; and their ideas, which stem from personal experiences, friends, and family members. NaNoWriMo is a community, one where everyone goes through the same struggles. In a way, the end result does not just belong to one author, but to everyone who helped along the way.
Not everyone reaches 50k and some people far surpass that amount by the end of the second week. Regardless of what end of the spectrum participants find themselves at come November 30th, NaNoWriMo is all about telling a story. That is what is truly important because everyone has a story to tell, whether it be in 5 words or 70,000 words. October is dedicated to planning your story, so go! Valiantly think of heroic names for your dragon and how to explain why a submarine can fly. Although both of these ideas can be executed in an endless number of ways, maybe you are not the type of person to plan a novel, or anything for that matter. Maybe you just want to wing it. Both options are acceptable to put down on a resume.
So in between planning to crawl inside a turkey and shopping until you literally drop, maybe consider writing, regardless of your strategy. But don’t do it for others, do it for yourself. There will be plenty of cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie to go around. If you need to throw an elbow to get a fourth piece, I strongly advice doing so.