Dust off your quills and parchment, it’s NaNoWriMo time

What does November mean to you? Crazy moustaches, toffee apples and fireworks, or just the month when you really can’t put off having the central heating on any longer? To me, it’s mostly the latter, but it’s also NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.

The aim of NaNo is simple: write 50,000 words in the month of November (I said simple, not easy). It is for anyone with a novel in them, whether you’ve never written a word of fiction before or if you’re the master of the Oxford Dictionary (I’m not sure what a dictionary master does, actually, but they might write novels).

Book lovers, look away now. I cut out the pages of an old book for a craft project and am using the leftovers as a pretty word count calendar.
Book lovers, look away now. I cut out the pages of an old book for a craft project and am using the leftovers as a pretty word count calendar.

I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time in 2012, and last year took part as an educator, running an after school club for 11-16 year olds at work. Dressing up in thinking caps ranging from glittery bowler hats to Dolly Parton-esque wigs and using the food tech classrooms to throw word count parties each Friday was a lot of fun, and something I was really tempted to do again, but between running that and working my first term as a teacher meant I hardly got a word of my own novel down. So this year the focus is on me, or rather, my latest idea of a made up world I’d like to explore for a while. Because that’s what’s best about writing fiction – creating something brand new and being the one to set the rules. Don’t mind Earth but think it could do with jazzing up with some flying dragons and purple rivers? Write a book.

The 50,000 word count target averages out at just over 1600 words a day. It’s a manageable amount for the dedicated, but for the rest of us, there are forums, pep talks, Twitter prompts and local write-ins. There are even a few crazy people opening up their own homes to overnight write-ins for their area (although, the one I read about did mention a sex swing, but I’ll try not to give that too much thought).

This year I’m trying to get ahead of the game by taking the advice of other participants and using the remainder of October to prepare. Some people make a mountain of frozen meals to save cooking time during the month, others stockpile cans of coke and chocolate. I’ve taken to using hacked up pages of an old book to create a word count calendar (apologies to those who can’t believe how casually I just mentioned book slaughter – it was for craft purposes only, and was a terrible book).

If you’re signed up to NaNo and want me as a writing buddy, you can find me on the site as Lauramsmith11. See you in the forums!


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