Disclaimer: This post is tailored more to non-writers, but writers should read this as well! Also look for more updates for NaNoWriMo! NaNo is basically the best time of the year for me. Even though I write throughout the year, having an entire month dedicated to it is a beautiful time. It puts a deadline in my face and gives me something to look forward to. It also makes me think and plan ahead because I only have 30 days for the actual writing of my story.
If you're reading this and you've never heard of Nano, I'm sorry. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and is exactly that. The entire month of November is dedicated to writing a novel. Wait, before you run in terror, take a second to listen! It's not as scary as it sounds. At its core, NaNo is a month where you set a goal, and make time to achieve it. Typically the goal is 50,000 words, but you can set it wherever you think is right for you. You're also not writing a final draft, so the point is to ignore your mistakes (if they bother you, make some notes on what to fix), and push through. It's difficult, but you'll feel great (and a little exhausted) at the end, even if you don't make your goal.
Nano is beneficial for everyone, even if you're not a technical "writer." The novel can be set your favorite genre, fictional or real. This international event helps further existing skills that are necessary in all aspects of your life. Creativity, grammar, and functioning under pressure are all skills that are furthered through this experience. Participating in this can help you discover a passion you wouldn't have realized before, and open opportunities you didn't know about.
You, a 'nonwriter,' are probably asking yourself 'why?'. "Why should I stick this unnecessary book into my busy schedule?" I'll tell you why. Nano is a much more rewarding experience that people give it credit for. Besides coming out with an amazing and unique document, you also come out more creative and more capable of working under pressure. After nano is over, I get a ton of ideas for a second/third book, or a short story, or even a completely new project! Creativity is something that we lose more and more as we get older, and face "the real world." Nano is a good place to earn some of it back. You're no longer restrained to society's rules. You're no longer restrained to the laws of what's possible! You're no longer restrained to the laws of physics, even! Nano helps regain creativity because you don't think about what can be done. If you're writing this story for yourself, you can make it crazy, disconnected, and just the story you want. Without an audience, it's up to you, and what you want. You'll get more and more creative throughout the month, as your writing skills develop, and you start getting deeper into your story.
Now, it's the how. How do I sign up? How do I actually write a novel in a month? How do I protect my mind from snapping like a twig when I'm scribbling away at four in the morning? Well, to sign up, you can either go online to campnanowrimo.org and make an account. Next, you "announce" your novel and set it up. The website administrators put you in a virtual cabin with others like a support group. You can get inspiration from them, chapter title ideas, even proofreading. If you don't like this method, check out your library, it may have an adult or teen level NaNoWriMo 'club', which will do the same thing as the virtual camp, only in the real world. There's also the choice where you can do it solo, writing on your own, but I find it helpful to write in a group, as they challenge you to stick with your schedule.
Writing the actual novel is not as intimidating as it sounds, though there are times that you may want to quit. When you've hit a block and can't come up with ideas, or when you're novel isn't looking as good as you thought, or even when your sleep deprivation is catching up to you (ignore all of the above until after nano). I'll be here throughout the month, posting updates and strategies every week in November. I'll also be posting prep tips, problems writers encounter, and how to overcome them, as well as answering any questions you might have (Send questions to TheMidnightWriter@gmail.com). Other people aren't going to write your story. That's up to you. Go. Write. Conquer.