Pittsburgh is home to many fantastic teen writers. The Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest is evidence of that. So, for all you writers out there–is there a novel in your head that is trying to get out? Then NaNoWriMo might be just what you need.
Short for “National Novel Writing Month”, NaNoWriMo is a free online initiative in which the participants attempt to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. For author John Green’s great sum-up of the ins and outs of NaNo, watch the video below!
The NaNo website describes it as a “seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing.” Fifty-thousand words is a lot, and thirty days isn’t a long time, so NaNoWriMo is basically thirty days of crazed speed writing. The end product isn’t supposed to be good—no one can sit down and crank out a perfect novel right off the bat, no matter how good a writer they are. The point of NaNo is to fling caution to the wind, set aside your insecurities, and just get your ideas out of your brain and onto paper.
So all you have to do is sit down and write 1,667 words (about 7.5 pages, doubled spaced) every day, no matter what, even if you are reduced to making your characters quote entire passages from the encyclopedia. Save all your editing for December!
There are lots of tools available to help you write faster. My favorite is an application called Write or Die at Dr. Wicked’s Writing Lab. You set a word goal and a time goal, and if your writing speed falls below what is required to meet your goal Dr. Wicked punishes you! (You get to choose your punishment mode, which ranges from gentle to electric shock).
There is also a book called No Plot? No Problem! A Low Stress, high Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 days, written by Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo. It’s chock full of tips to help you get your novel written!
Be sure to check out Teens Writing For Teens, an online community for young adult authors.
On the NaNo website you can update your wordcount as you write, visit the blog, get web badges, connect with other authors, procrastinate on the forums, and much more.
Teens are always welcome in the NaNo community; those age 12 and under are encouraged to participate in NaNoWriMo as well at their Young Writers Program website.
Will you accept the challenge?
-Eva M., CLP-Allegheny