“National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.” nanowrimo.org
This is a world-wide challenge, most popular in the United States and Western Europe.
I wrote the first draft of my science fiction novel Glitch inspired by NaNoWriMo and encouraged by a long-time friend. I stuck pretty close to a goal of writing 2,000 words a day. Each morning started with a few hundred pitiful words, then the dog’s morning walk. As I walked, the blocks in my brain would breach and by the time I got home, the words were ready to flow. But the huge problem with my first draft was continuity. I wrote out of sequence and purely for my own interests. It took several more drafts to beat out a coherent story. Glitch is still available. I can proudly say: it’s not terrible. Most of my (far too few) reader reviews agree with my own, biased assessment. I have a second novel, Venture, available and I’m working on a third. I’m learning and, I think, getting better. I wouldn’t call it “fun” exactly, but satisfying, interesting, addictive.
The experience led me to study advice for writers – I can’t help it, I’m and engineer and want to know how things work. I now go back and forth between outlining my story and drafting chapters. I try to keep a running list of each chapter’s content, so I have fewer problems describing – say – a character’s hair as brown in one place and blond somewhere else.
Try writing a novel, if only to find out how hard it can be. You’ll appreciate your favorite writers more. You don’t have to publish to have fun. Write just for yourself, or for your own group of friends. To publish on a social site, try Wattpad.com. If you’re brave enough or maybe foolish enough, offer your work to others to critique. Whether you believe the saying “everybody has a book in them,” or, like Christopher Hitchens, “everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay,” it’s a great experience.
Now if I can just figure out how to keep the cat off the keyboard.