NaNoWriMo: What’s it All About?

This post was written by FLVS student and Creative Writing Club board member Grace Robbins.

November. A time of changing leaves, crisp air that brings out jackets and scarves (well, except for all of us who live in Florida), and a warm sense of nostalgia. But it’s also a time to bathe your face in the glow from your laptop screen as you near the early hours of the morning doubled over typing furiously to reach your word count.

You guessed it: it’s NaNo time.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.

Taking place in the month of November, it’s a challenge for writers across the globe to write an entire novel in 30 days. Thousands each year sit down to the tough task of completing a 50,000-word story while juggling jobs, school, and Thanksgiving. I’ve participated in the challenge myself two years now.

When I first learned about NaNo in the FLVS Creative Writing Club, I was hooked. A novel in a month? Let’s give it a go! My sights were ambitious and the undertaking daunting, but I got to work brainstorming my novel’s substance. I learned NaNo wasn’t as easy as it sounded, and I haven’t won yet (I love writing poetry during National Poetry Writing Month more), but I know there are still plenty of opportunities for me to succeed in the future!

So how can you win? Don’t be discouraged by the word size, it may seem unattainable but it’s doable! You can also set your own goal if you want to—25,000 is a great one. While it’s highly encouraged to construct a plan (though I’m guilty of not doing that), I have learned one of the strongest strategies is to write with a “stream of consciousness.” You might be tempted to edit as you go, deleting plot holes or mulling over characters. But the truth is, you won’t get far if you do. A repeated message is this: quantity over quality. Writing without stopping, regardless of how bad your story may become, is what helps you win.

I love to engage in something called “word sprints.” You set a timer for 15-20-30 minutes and write without stopping. You can beat your own word sprint score, or challenge a friend. I always come out with 2,000 more words, but I’m sure they consisted of more plot holes. The point is, the goal of NaNo is to give you a first draft to work on later—no matter what goal you achieve, you’ve given yourself 15,000 or 20,000 or 50,000 more words to fashion a great story out of than you had a month before. That’s certainly a satisfying reward! I still have both projects on my desktop, and I like to read them from time to time and edit them when I’m in a writing drought. It’s great to have those on hand to get the creative juices flowing.

NaNoWriMo is not easy, but no one can deny: it gets you writing. Whether you are a skilled novelist or just starting out as a writer, you can never get enough practice time. As writers, we are constantly developing our writing style through each draft of each writing project, and NaNo helps you do just that. It’s not solely about achieving your word count goal. It’s about strengthening your writing muscles—and learning more about yourself as a writer.

Interested in participating?

Visit the Young Writer Program NaNoWriMo website or join the FLVS Creative Writing Club.

On our club blog, we will be posting prompts each day to help our members achieve NaNo success!

Happy writing, and good luck!

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