6 Things to Pack for NaNoWriMo

By Addissyn H., Age 16

Hi, novelists!

It’s that time of year again. I’m talking about the holidays. Halloween haunts begin the best horror novels known to man, and family woes surrounding Thanksgiving give way to the next bestseller in the genre of realistic fiction. Christmas inspires a funny children’s tale about when Santa converted to Judaism, and New Year’s provides the perfect scene for a cheesy romance.

More specifically, though, I mean we’re racing toward November, which means National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is fast approaching.

This November marks my third year as a participant and – dare I jinx it – winner, which just means I was able to successfully write 50,000 words in 30 days, regardless of quality. Even being somewhat of an oldie at this, it’s terrifying. Somehow you have to pull 50,000 consecutive words out of a hat in such a short period of time, while not compromising your social life (however small it may be).

The truth is, I’d have a hard time talking about my life for 30 days. I’d get bored. So I guess this November is a chance to look into the life of someone else who you can manipulate to the brink of death, or to death itself. That kind of power is, admittedly, very exciting.

November is a challenge. However, it’s not competitive. The writers want to see you succeed as much as they want to themselves. It’s a community about all else, which is something we don’t see a whole lot of in the writing community (the exception being at WriteGirl), because you sit and write alone. And I don’t know about you, but the sitting and writing thing is a looming idea hanging over my head right about now. Between AP classes and extracurriculars this year, I’m not sure where I’ll be fitting writing in. So I’ve started a planning session, and in this last week, it’s not too late to join.

I’ve done basic, surface-scratching research about the talk of pirates and the clothes of the 18th century. I’ve talked to my friends, who are extremely excited about reading the eventual finished product. So far, I’ve created black-and-white characters whose names give them more background than I know about their physical appearance. (Hey, I said so far.) This last week, I’ll be finishing a vague outline consisting of a summary of the action, the reasons behind it, and the characters involved. I’ll be attempting to get to know my characters better and create time to write in the first couple of weeks.

For you first time NaNoWriMo’s out there and the novelists who will succeed this year, whatever it takes, I commend you on your bravery. If no one has ever told you this before, I am here to tell you now: Writing is an act that takes courage and commitment, both of which you obviously have. The best advice I can give you is to pay attention to the world around you even more closely in November. That random piece of conversation in the bank or the song playing on the radio may be the smallest things during the rest of the year, but in November, they’re the heart and soul of your inspiration. Pick a daily writing routine, and try to stick to it as much as possible by announcing it to those around you. This way, they’ll know not to disturb you. And if you’re stuck, WriteGirl has taught me to write down every sensory detail I can think of, making it come from my characters’ perspective and relating it to their momentary situation. The goal, of course, is to never give up, because what you have to say is too important to dismiss. That is the essence of NaNoWriMo.

Right now, I know the task of writing 50,000 words seems daunting. Remember, I am one of you, too. You’re asking yourself, as I am, how between homecoming, family camping trips, Thanksgiving, work, and the mandatory after-work and afterschool events, you’re actually going to have time to sit down and write every single day. All I can say is that somehow it happens. You write 500 to 3,000 words every day, and all of a sudden you have a mostly finished project by the end of November that makes a great holiday present. Or maybe we’ll wait until next year when it’s edited. Either way, you come out November feeling successful because you wrote a novel. Forget that it isn’t perfect, you still have a lot of work to do, and it may not be 50,000 words – but still, you did it.

Most importantly, go see a movie at least once this November. Read a book or two. Go on a date. Just because you want to finish writing a book doesn’t mean your social life is going to wait for you. It can even provide the brain break you need to write the next 50 pages.

So get ready, novelists. We only have a few days left before the crazy consumes us. Plan accordingly and have fun! Stay tuned for the results of my novel-writing month.

Until next time!

Boarding Pass

Name: YOU!

Destination: NaNoWriMo

Flight Number: 50,000 words

Departure: November 1, 2015 00:00:01

Arrival: November 30, 2015 23:59:59

Packing List:

• a notebook

• pencils and pens (lots of extras)

• computer

• brain juice

• food and coffee

• a cozy sweatshirt

Weather:

• good, smooth start, with lots of ideas

• slight decline in inspiration altitude

• reference your planning

• write, write, write

• keep writing

• call your friends and tell them you need to go out

• write about everything you see

• rushed landing with a completed novel!