Today marks the halfway point for the Office of Letters and Light’s annual project, National Novel Writing Month. While the OLL sponsors many exciting projects throughout the year, it’s possible none has such a participation and involvement as NaNo. With the very lofty goal of writing a 50,000-word novel entirely during the month of November, over 300,000 participants are at this moment hitting the keyboard in what is now the downhill race to the finish.
Unfortunately, a number of obstacles can get in the way. Work schedules, family commitments, and even the upcoming holidays can derail even the most dedicated wordsmiths. Social media sites are full of remarks from would-be novelists on the creative ways they have had to sneak in a few minutes of writing time throughout the month.
“Getting sick is always an inconvenience,” explains author Janelle Jensen. “Getting sick during NaNoWriMo is a disaster. Having a head cold, coupled with headaches and migraines, I have not written anything in six days. I was already behind on my word count slightly so by now I’m roughly 13K behind. Am I going to let that slow me down? I plan on coming back hard and fast. I will make 50K by November 30th. And there will be wine and Vermont cheese to celebrate!”
For other authors, experimenting with NaNoWriMo can be seen as less of a looming challenge, and more of as a way to stretch themselves creatively. Jennifer Gracen still finds time to work as an editor, but this year’s NaNo allowed her to devote some time to nurturing her own skills as an accomplished author.
“So far, my NaNo novel is going well. Right on track as of today to finish by 11/30, and I’m halfway through—all good! The word sprints I’ve been doing with my core group of friends also doing NaNo — Karen, Amy, Janelle, and Andrew—have really helped me keep my daily word count up more than anything else. It’s fun to do, but definitely more fun to do with friends.”
The most important thing that writers can remember about NaNo is that it is supposed to be a fun and challenging tool that encourages both creativity and dedication. If authors attempt the project without some understanding of their own motivations, they may be setting themselves up for disappointment on November 30th. Author Karen DeLabar, who joins Jensen and Gracen in supporting each other during this light-hearted competition, spoke about the true purpose of the project.
“I was doing fine until my heroine decided to reveal a secret that not even I, her beloved creator, knew about, causing the 16K previous words to be useless. It’s insanity, I tell ya, but I love it. It’s what NaNo is all about. Discovery with a bit insanity thrown in for fun.”