Put NaNoWriMo on your bucket list


Justin Chandler

The month of November is usually a forgotten time, wedged between the celebrated creepiness of Halloween in October and the joyful melody of Christmas in December. While Thanksgiving is naturally a celebrated time for us to not only fill our bodies with delicious food and our hearts with gratitude, it is nonetheless part of a month that is considered a “filler” when compared to others.

That is, until NaNoWriMo entered the fray.

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is a month-long excursion for professional and amateur novelists to come together and do what fuels them the most creatively: writing. Created in 1999 and officially becoming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2005, the organization’s program is based around a simple premise: Write a novel with at least 50,000 words during the month of November, with a recommended target of 1,667 words per day to reach your goal and claim your prize. Joined with this program are various support systems including forums for discussion, motivational words of wisdom by past winners and organized “write-ins” with writers in your surrounding area. In essence, it is the literary sprint for gold.

Some may be skeptical towards the entire premise of NaNoWriMo, with some critics claiming, “Writing 50k words in a month will not provide the best work.” The organization counters this by offering editing months in January and February for those who complete their novels, editorial staff at the ready on the forums, and Pronoun, an online publication company for members who sign up. In addition, numerous authors have found great success with the month’s marathon, both professionally with publications and personally with a greater sense of time management and responsibility.

The very idea of writing a novel, especially in such short time, may be overwhelming to some. However, this is a creative outlet for authors of different backgrounds, writing styles and story ideas to come together as a literary community in search of one goal: writing their dream book. The harsh reality of life is, not everyone can be an athlete. Not every average Joe can physically run a marathon or race a car with precision. However, with NaNoWriMo, everyone can become an author. Even if one does not succeed in reaching the 50,000 milestone, smaller goals are put in place, such as writing the first thousand words or reaching 25,000, to motivate and give hope that the goal is close. Everyone has a story to tell at some point in their life, why not put the proverbial pen to paper and let the ink flow from your heart to your fingertips? Life is too short to let such creative juices be left uncultivated.

This year, I am competing in NaNoWriMo for the first time, and as of this article’s draft date, Nov. 11, 2015, I have completed over 20,000 words of my novel. With greater luck and numerous cups of coffee, I will be able to finish on time and check off one more item on my bucket list. Will you join me next year?

Chandler, a middle grades education major from Icard, is an opinion writer.