Tuesday, October 21, 2008

National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month! National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for short) is an insane dash to create a 50,000 word novel in thirty days and it is a lot of craziness and a lot of fun. Don't think you can write a novel in thirty days? Well I've done it twice. Surely you can pull yourself together to outlast a puny, unmotivated little snerk like me.

Here are ten great things about Nanowrimo:

1. The forums. In the forums you'll find irritating people whining about how they can't write, shocking people blabbing about how they've finished 100K in a week and don't know what to do with themselves, interesting people with plot problems, confused people with research issues, and mostly lots of people in lots of different demographics (knitters, moms, homeschoolers, fan-fic writers, etc) all trying to churn out a novel. Very helpful.

2. It is free to sign up. You can create an account instantly and start customizing your profile right away. During November, you use the site to update your word count.

3. Word wars. To start a word war, you get on whatever social networking site lifts your hem (Facebook, Twitter, the Nanowrimo forums) and you pronounce that at :30 you are going to "go" and that you plan to write for 30 minutes. Other people will pipe up and say "Alright, I'll go at :30 too." (:30 means whatever time zone you're in, you go at 30 minutes after the hour) Then when the given time hits you write like blazes and try to own everyone else who said they'd race you and that's a word war. At the end you post how many words you wrote.

4. Writing buddies. On the Nanowrimo site, you can choose buddies and their status bars will appear on your profile for you to compare -- who is falling behind? who is kicking your bottom? who has yet to write one single word? Send motivational emails. Send triumphant goads. Celebrate every 10K you achieve. It's like having friends but you don't have to get them lemonade. Be my writing buddy on Nanorwrimo! Here is a link to my Young Writer's Program educator profile (my username is littleblueschool), and here is a link to Benny's (his username is bennimus). Here is a link to my regular profile at the adult Nanowrimo (my username is TinyBites).

5. No editing. Nanowrimo is not about quality, it's about quantity. Let me tell you that for every great paragraph you write, you will write three awful paragraphs, but at the end of the month if you've written 100 great paragraphs, then by golly it's more than you would have written had you not done this project.

6. The Young Writer's Project. There is a section of Nanowrimo that's just for writers age 13 and under. It has its own kid-friendly web site which is completely G rated. There is even a homeschooling forum for those of us unsocialized freaks who do not engage in traditional schooling! Young Writers can set their own word count target, so they don't have to do 50K words. Benny is doing 10K.

7. Teaching Aids. If you sign up for an educator account on the YWP site, you get access to all kinds of workbook pages, writing prompts, and really great materials that teach advanced concepts like plot, conflict, character development in a kid-accessible way. I dare you to take a look at everything they've put together and see if you're not mightily impressed.

8. Permission to Reprioritize. This is something you can do FOR YOU. And since it only lasts for one month, it's okay to prioritize it. Let the house go a little. Let the Chinese restaurant make dinner. Don't hyperprogram the weekends. Let the kids watch a movie after dinner.

9. Winning. When you have your 50K words, you submit it to the Nanowrimo official word-counting app, and it counts, and if you're over 50K, you're a winner. There's no way to check if you've written a menu for applesauce a million times or if you've written the next Ulysses. That's on you. I can tell you it is a great and glorious thing to have written 50K words in one month. I've done it twice. Nothing happens when you win, except that you get a banner on your profile and you get to download and print a very elaborately silly winner's certificate and a badge for your web site. But it is fun to win.

10. Nothing to lose. Say you've had a novel bumping around in your head for years, and you go after it in November, and you only make it through 15K before you slack off and quit Nanowrimo. Guess what? You just started that novel you've been prattling on about forever, and you've got a very good chunk of it written. At the very least, you sign up and you never write one word, and you giggle about it, and that's the end. At the very best, you write a novel, and that's something not many people do.

I can tell you that Nanowrimo is the only "school" we're doing in November. I mean we'll still be doing violin and dance and karate and swimming and piano and co-op classes and spelling bee practice and reading books and stuff, but I'm not going to put any schooly stuff on Benny except the writing. And I'm going to really try not to put anything on myself except the writing either.

I won't be blogging daily about Nanowrimo here but I will be putting it on my personal blog. Everything feeds into my Tumblr, including my Twitter, my YouTube, my Flickr, this blog, and my personal blog. The Little Blue School Tumblr is here.
Having seen all those excellent novel entries in the Book Arts Bash, I know there are a million homeschoolers out there in the blogosphere who would love this project! I am peering expectantly at Jake, Patience, Shannon, Vienna, Rhiannon, and any other HSoBX novelists out there. I am also casting my pointy eye at Melina, Amy, Tina, Rosemary, Shell, Alan, and any other moms or dads I know that would find this good fun. Join me in a good novel. Well, join me in a fast novel!


  1. Anonymous9:42 AM

    Yeah, yeah, I'll do it again. Since it's always a book about my neighborhood, ...hm...I did a horror story, and I did one where aliens land and remove one of my least favorite people...er...uh...OK. This year I'll do one about all the houses on one street. I'll invent ghastly lives behind those closed doors and then at the end ask readers to vote for their least liked citizens.

  2. I just can't. The pressure just from reading this post is killing me! I'm not cut out for this competitive stuff, I tell you! Now Patience, on the other hand, may be able to hang with you on this one. Good luck to you! I think Amy is doing this, too.

  3. Anonymous12:15 PM

    I'm gonna do it! Would be a first time since I've never heard about it before. I'm psyched to be an author! What does Janis Joplin say? Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose! Good luck!