On Nov. 29, 2012, during my junior year in high school, I finished writing the final chapter of my very first novel.
The rough draft, called “Life In-Between” is just shy of 51,000 words.
I wrote it in 29 days.
November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short.
It’s a month where hundreds of thousands of aspiring writers around the globe set out to write the next bestseller–or at least the first draft of one.
The NaNoWriMo website calls it “thirty days and nights of literary abandon,” and a “seat-of-your-pants literary adventure.”
NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty launched the website in 1999, and 21 aspiring novelists made an attempt at writing a novel in a month.
Last November, over 500,000 people signed up to write novels.
There are two rules to NaNoWriMo: you must write 50,000 words and you must write them between Nov. 1 and Dec. 1.
That translates to about 1,667 words a day, a lot of caffeine and more than one all-nighter.
Writing the full 50,000 words in a month earns you bragging rights and a few discounts with online publishing companies–not that anyone is anywhere near ready to publish their novels on Dec. 1. It’s mostly about the bragging rights.
While I’ve only finished one novel since I started NaNoWriMo-ing in 2011, I’ve written over 90,000 words toward NaNoWriMo in Novembers past.
Honorable mentions include my attempts titled, “Madison Avenue,” “A Week Lost” and “The War at Home.”
This year’s attempt doesn’t have a working title yet, but the characters are lively and the plot is promising.
Of course, there are spelling errors and plot holes in every paragraph I’ve written so far, some scenes are out of place or irrelevant and my main character doesn’t even have a last name yet, but in November there’s no time to edit. There’s barely enough time to write.
In 2012 when I actually finished my novel, I hardly slept, and I was working on my novel every spare second I had.
I wrote in class when the teacher’s back was turned, on the bus to and from marching band competitions and during late nights when I definitely should have been working on homework instead.
I spent the majority of my Thanksgiving break playing catch-up and scrambling to meet word counts that I was behind on.
How I didn’t flunk out of high school that month, I’ll never know.
I highly recommend trying to write a novel at least once in your life.
It’s exciting and freeing, and quite frankly, it’s fun to play God in a world you’ve created.
I’m a community health major at Keene State College, and I’ve never really considered writing as a post-grad career.
You don’t have to be a “writer” to write a novel. You just have to have a pen, some paper and thirty days.
To quote Chris Baty, “There’s a novel in you that only you can write.”
Jill Giambruno can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org