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November 9, 2007

National Novel Writing Month

    This edition of Teen Ink was written by our intern, Maria P.

    Sitting in my bright-lit room, I began to twiddle my thumbs, in complete, anticipation.

    Wait. No. Don't touch it. Don't even think about the extra commas that are currently taking over your story. Editing will come in December or January, or any other month but November. At least, that's what Nanowrimo suggests.

    Yawning in boredom, I reached over and slammed my hand down onto the alarm's clock.

    National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. Nanowrimo) is an online group that pulls people together from all over the country to write their respective novels. Just last year there were a total of 79,000 writers who joined, of which nearly 13,000 finished their novel. Feel a little overwhelmed or confused? Don't be. Nanowrimo is simple: November is reserved for writing your 50,000-word novel (writing, not editing). Your story can be ridiculous, you can have unrealistic scenarios and you can even feign ignorance of commas, periods and question marks for one whole month. (Word of advice: Don't tell your teacher that the reason your essay lacks periods is because Nanowrimo told you to do it...the excuse might be up there with, "My dog ate my homework.")

    Soon, the son began to set.

    Nanowrimo is all about quantity not quality, which might seem a little odd at first--don't they want you to write your best? But they have their reasons. By getting everything down (I would stick to a computer rather than paper as counting 50,000 words manually can't be easy), you'll be able to change plots, character names or anything else in the months afterwards. The important thing in November is to get your novel written first.

    It were almost time...

    Don't get nervous about writing such a long piece, there are ways to split up those dreaded 50,000 words (175 pages!) that will make your writing time seem to fly on by. First, start by thinking of a general idea or theme. Next, come up with a plot outline or even a set of questions that will help you figure out what you might want to have happen in your story: Will the characters get along? Who is your main character? What is he or she like? Is there anything that makes them so mad they start to look like enraged cartoon characters? Third: Begin writing. Nanowrimo estimates that if you write 1,667 words per day during November, you will have a 50,000-word story by the 30th. Lastly, remember that it's okay if you don't like one chapter or the wording of a particular phrase, or even the description you chose for your character's hair. Breathe. Let it go. Move on.

    While you might think it's too late to begin writing your own novel, you can participate in Nanowrimo on your own. Pick a date to start and a date to finish your 50,000 words (remember, you have exactly one month), or you can always wait until next November and begin with the rest of the country.

    Good luck with your novel, and remember: No story is stupid. For more information on Nanowrimo, head on over to Nanowrimo.org!

    To starts Nanowrimo!

    P.S. In February Teen Ink is doing a special Love issue, so send us your non-fiction experiences, your fiction stories, or your poems for a chance to be included. You can submit your work by clicking here.

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