Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and reading resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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Wednesday
Oct112006

NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month

For those who don't know, next month is NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The event is a very casual approach to novel writing, in which the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel by midnight, November 30th. You're allowed to make notes and outline before November, but you aren't supposed to actually start writing until November 1st. NaNoWriMo was created by Chris Baty, who recently published No Plot? No Problem! : A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days.

I participated in NaNoWriMo a few years back, to help jumpstart my novel-writing, and I wrote the rough copy of a fantasy novel for young people during that month. The event was exactly what I needed; I tend to over-edit as I write, wanting each sentence to be perfect before going on to the next. This makes for slow writing and a lot of frustration.

NaNoWriMo helped me get past the perfectionist block. The first draft of the novel was VERY rough, but at least I had something to work with. Now my NaNoWriMo novel is out circulating at publishing houses, and I keep my fingers crossed. Part of the fun is the commiseration with other writers participating in the event, on the discussion forums and (depending on your location) in person.

The event isn't for everyone. I'd recommend it most strongly for any writer who needs a creative kick in the pants, to get them out of a rut. Yet I've also noticed that published writers are also using NaNoWriMo to get a headstart on new projects, like Michelle Rowen. Previous NaNoWriMo participants have had their novels published by major publishing houses. Hopefully mine will be added to that list soon. :-)

This year, I'm opting to draw cartoons for NaNoWriMo instead of writing a novel; my tendinitis is well under control these days, and I'd rather not push my luck since my current writing is already going well.

What about the rest of you? Are you participating? Why or why not? If you're going to have a NaNoWriMo blog, please post the URL below.

You can find out more about NaNoWriMo at the official Web site. Starting next month, there will also be a NaNoWriMo cartoon by yours truly on the site every weekday.

(A version of the above has been cross-posted to Inkygirl)

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