NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a creative exercise in perseverance for writers everywhere. It is a challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel during the 30 days of November. That's around 12,500 words per week or around 1,700 words per day!
The goal is to end November with a complete, or at least mostly complete, novel – which you then edit in December. Most participants set a goal to reach a certain amount of words per day and try to keep to that throughout the month (even if they miss a few days here or there). Of course, the goal of 50,000 words can be flexible—doing any writing consistently throughout the month can be hard enough.
It can be difficult to push yourself to finish something, especially such a lofty goal, but the purpose of NaNoWriMo is to have a group of people with the same goal, who you can lean on to keep you accountable and vice versa.
Another thing that can stop us from creating is our own fear of not being good enough. With NaNoWriMo, it's not necessarily the quality of the writing that's important—it's the fact that you are putting yourself out there and creating at all (plus, you can always edit and refine your writing post-November). More than just writing, it’s daunting to start something new and wind up with a final product that you’re not happy with. It’s important to remember that no one is born good at everything. It takes lot of practice, and a lot of failures, to become an expert. The first time I tried learning to crochet was a disaster, and I almost never picked it up again because I felt so incompetent. I don’t have a fairy tale success story, as I’m still not particularly great at crocheting. But I keep on trying because comparatively, I’m still a lot better at it than I was before and it still feels good to make something, even if it’s not perfect.
Take advice from folks like Bob Ross and Mr. Rogers: you don't have to create a masterpiece to be successful. Every time you create, you grow a little more and get a little bit better.
Not a novelist? You can still celebrate NaNoWriMo in your own way. Even if you don’t feel like being productive, absorbing the creativity around you can also help you grow as an artist and as a person. Where to find this creativity? Check out the offerings at your local neighborhood library, where you can find a plethora of resources to produce inspiration!
Walnut Street West Library will be hosting multiple NaNoWriMo meetup events throughout November and Parkway Central Library will be holding a Tea and Novel Editing Party for teens in December to help wrap up NaNoWriMo. Oak Lane Library also has a writer’s club that meets monthly.
Here are some additional ideas for other things to do in the spirit of NaNoWriMo (and the library resources that can help you achieve them):
- Write a poem
- Get into a good book, TV series, or movie that’s new to you
- Get crafty! Learn to knit, needle felt, or some other kind of DIY. You can even borrow knitting needles from the Northeast Regional Library!
- Create a zine (a DIY magazine), a scrapbook, or a collage
- Make some homemade slime
- Print out some coloring pages and go wild
- Journal your everyday comings and goings
- Bake something, like a cake in a fun shape
- Build a robot
- Go hiking or geocaching (a worldwide scavenger hunt) and explore all the sights in Fairmount Park
- Most importantly, get out there and make something ugly – the only way to conquer the fear of failing is to embrace it!