National Novel Writing Month (popularly known as NaNoWriMo) has been growing in popularity since its humble beginnings in 1999. Writers register on the NaNoWriMo website and challenge themselves to write an entire first draft of a novel–50,000 words–between November 1 and 30. The idea is to simply write, to displace the fear many of us have with sitting down to write a book because we don’t think it will be any good, a fear that stops us from writing in the first place. NaNoWriMo offers plenty of encouragement along the way, and the growing number of participants ensure a lively and supportive community.
Jenna Miller is one of NaNoWriMo’s 300,000+ registered writers and, after seeing some of her #NaNoWriMo tweets, we decided to check in on her progress and see what motivated her to try it. Miller blogs and reviews books at the popular lostgenerationreader.com and also works in Fargo as a web content specialist. You can keep up with her, and her NaNoWriMo progress, by following her on Twitter at @lostgenreader.
What made you decide to try NaNoWriMo?
I participate in NaNoWriMo because it gives me the push I need to start a new novel. I also love the overall feeling of community that you don’t have when writing alone. Having other writers cheering you on and daring you to charge forward and surprise yourself with your writing is very encouraging, and it’s rewarding to do the same for them in return.
How far are you and how do you feel about your pace?
As of November 12, I am at about 23,000 words and am confident in my pace. I write the most during the weekend, but I write daily to keep myself motivated and interested in the novel.
Does the pace of writing for NaNoWriMo give you any advantages?
The necessary pace is my main advantage because it ensures writing from start to finish. For me, writing a character becomes similar to real life in that you have to keep them moving along as naturally as possible. Too much time away from writing a character is like slowing down life itself. I’ve lost too many wonderful characters in the way that we lose ourselves sometimes by slowing down or stopping altogether. NaNoWriMo gives me that push to keep moving my characters along just as we embrace life and push ourselves forward.
How do you describe the novel you’re writing? And, can you share something that has come out of your writing so far that you’re proud of or impressed with?
My first major in college and something I’m very interested in is psychology. I love learning about people and how the brain works. I’m using this fascination and what I know to write about the progression of relationships through the eyes of your average female American for a large chunk of the novel, and later through the eyes of an individual with a serious and disturbing psychological disorder. The novel is (non-genre) fiction and takes place over the past decade and into the present.
Coming from a writing and editorial background, it’s difficult to set aside the inner editor and just let the words flow naturally and let the story tell itself, so I’m most proud of being able to shut that part of me down and just focus on getting the words out. I’m also dealing with a story unlike anything else I’ve ever written. It’s scary to go outside of your comfort zone, so I’m impressed by how invested I am in something so unlike my typical style.
Would you recommend this to other writers? And, will you do it again?
I highly recommend NaNoWriMo to anyone looking to write a novel, especially those who need a push and/or support from others. It’s a unique and rewarding experience. I will participate in NaNoWriMo again in the future.
Image via NaNoWriMo.