November is National Novel Writing Month. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s something I think every one has got to try at some point in their life.
Basically, the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1-November 30 from scratch. There’s no prize, entry fee, judges or anything like that. It’s just a good, clean competition against your inner critic that’s been telling you for years that you’ll never ever ever write a book, let alone in one month.
For young writers under the age of 18, there is a specific Young Writers Program, which is pretty much the same thing but without the 50k wordcount goal. It’s really up to you which program you want to participate in, but there’s lots of more age-appropriate advice and materials that go along with school activities and you can connect with people your own age, so that might be a plus for you.
People participate all over the world, track their progress on the Internet, discuss writerly things on discussion boards, isolate themselves from their family and friends except for meeting up with their local NaNoWriMo communities for group writing sessions–it’s madness!
I did NaNoWriMo last year for the first time. I didn’t finish, but it was the most work I’d ever put into a novel because I have yet to finish a novel idea that I’ve started. I always come up with better, more exciting ideas that don’t make my brain hurt as much so I drop everything and run to that. Unfortunately, the cycle starts all over again and here I am a year later…
Anyways, enough about my issues. I’m here to help you!
Now according to the rules, you can’t start working on your novel until November 1st, but there’s no harm in trying to plan and outline your story. Having a little idea of where you want your story to go will really help to crank out that word count after getting over that initial rush of enthusiasm and then sinking into a deep mud pit of exhaustion.
Here are some great resources to get you ready for next month’s intensive writing marathon by sparking your imagination and getting the juices flowing.
1. 911 Writer’s Block– an emergency call center for writers in need. This is great for story starters, character and plot ideas, but also for when you’re in need of something to get your story off the ground again, like killing off a character! You also get great sympathetic quotes from popular authors who know just how you’re feeling.
2. The Plot Whisperer– Martha Alderson calls herself the “Plot Whisperer” and has a blog and a video series that you might find helpful in learning how to plot a novel step by step. If you think that sounds really complex and scary, the Plot Whisperer is here for you!
3. Novel Ideas– In honor of NaNoWriMo, NPR asked writers like Jodi Picoult and Walter Dean Meyers to give their advice about the writing process. These posts are several years old as I found them in the archive of NPR’s website, but it doesn’t change the fact that these writers know what they are talking about.
4.How to Write a Novel in 100 Days or Less– Well you know you only have 30 days, but still, the day by day advice that the Peace Corps Writers give you is really friendly and simple. They make it short and sweet, assigning each day to talk about something different like analyzing your favorite books, outline the book’s action on paper or focusing on your protagonist.
Good luck and let me know if you find other cool sites for writers!