There’s not much November is known for. Sure it’s a time where the weather becomes melancholy, and the faces of men around campus get scruffier, but aspiring writers know it as a time of complete stress, dedication and hopefully, victory. November is National Novel Writing Month, and that first draft of your dreams is just 50,000 words away.
NaNoWriMo.org annually challenges writers to finally begin the novel that they have played out a thousand times in their heads. The site opens up on Nov. 1 and gives participants until Nov. 30 to complete the first drafts of their manuscripts. The site allows you to track the progress of your novel and even receive pep-talks and support regarding your working project. There is also a map on the website’s home page where you can see the locations of other writers worldwide participating in NaNoWriMo.
If you think that writing a novel or a quality finished product is too daunting for a strict deadline, just keep in mind that John Keats’ famous Romantic sonnet “On the Grasshopper and the Cricket” was written during a writing competition on a booze-filled afternoon. Being university students, I’m sure you understand how grandiose a writing task can seem at the outset. Whether it’s a next day due date, or a parent that is constantly on your back, strict deadlines and accountability seem to bring about the best results. That’s why NaNoWriMo provides a platform for those interested in writing to visually track their progress.
The website is a skeleton platform; the entire brilliance of the site is a result of the user community. Members in previous years have even used the site to schedule local meet-ups, including sessions for Niagara College and Brock University Students writing locally.
Brock student Sarsi Cabansay is among the participants trying to finish their manuscripts by the end of the month. “I think NaNoWriMo is a good platform for aspiring writers because it provides writers a community where they can encourage each other. For me, having a supportive community really encourages me to finish a book,” said Cabansay. “It also gives us a deadline. Aspiring writers who are writing their first novel don’t usually have a deadline and sometimes that leads to not finishing a novel’s first draft in a timely fashion, if at all. NaNoWriMo makes sure you finish your first draft, and it makes sure you finish it in one month.”
Among the interesting community additions are a few selfpublished Canadian writers who are live-streaming the writing process over Twitch, a virtual livestream video website. Watching a man type words while walking on a treadmill in his pyjamas may not be the most interesting thing to watch, but it is certainly inspirational.
If you believe NaNoWriMo’s slogan this year that “The world needs your novel”, then there are also many ways to help facilitate the writing process. If your real barrier to progress is Pinterest or distractedly listening to T-Swift on YouTube, there is a software called “Freedom” that will actually prohibit you from using the Internet during a specified writing period. If you need some extra motivation, writeordie.com provides software that is set to eliminate writer’s block by adding consequences for procrastination. You simply set a timer, set a goal for your word count and if you don’t meet your goal, consequences that range from loud, terrifying and annoying noises to terrifying images and a setting that begins erasing your words if you stop writing — mix these options with NaNoWriMo’s impending deadline for optimal results.
If you’ve been working on a plot outline, or if you just to put your name on a finished script, then visit NaNoWriMo.org and begin your journey to becoming the next J.K. Rowling.