Why I'm Trying to Write a Novel in a Month

In a world full of copious amounts of stress and anguish, some people make the questionable decision to add to that by writing 50,000 words in a month’s time. Why? Because of National Novel Writing Month—or, as it’s more commonly known, NaNoWriMo. It is a month-long event, occurring in November, during which participants are encouraged to write 1,667 words—or more—per day, in order to make a total of 50,000 in 30 days (50,000 being the traditional cutoff line for when a work of writing officially becomes a "Novel").

And this year, for the fourth time, I decided to throw my hat into the ring.

I’ve participated in this world before—I was not new to the journey, or to the amazing friends and writing buddies made along the way. I also gave it my best shot in 2015 and 2016. Then in 2017, I was so annoyed with my previous losses that I wrote 50,000 words in 16 days (and then never touched the novel again).

But I wasn’t planning on giving it a shot this year. It was fun—it was always a thrilling combination of fun, exhausting, and throw-your-laptop-at-a-wall frustrating. But this year, I was looking for a job. On top of that, I had midterm exams coming up. I was essentially a vaguely human-shaped being made entirely of stress, flannels, and self-doubt; and was fairly certain that that was not the right frame of mind for bringing a new story into the world.

As it sometimes happens, however, the novel chose the novelist. As November snuck up on me, I became more and more aware that there was a story I wanted to write—a story that I’d never be able to make time for without outside motivation, but one that I really wanted to explore. Somewhere out there was a story about aliens, government conspiracies, and trans boys falling in love, and I wanted to write it so badly even though I knew I didn't have the time.

But that’s the funny thing about time—even if you don’t have it, when you’re desperate enough, you can make it. On November 1st, I woke up early to get in half my words, and went to bed late that very night finishing the other half. I was driven by the story, and driven by the need to tell it in the right way, or at least in the only way I could.

Accurate depiction of me at work on my novel

November, at the time of writing this article, is about one-third gone, and about a third of my story has been completed, too. But it’s not over, and it won’t be over for about nineteen more days. By the end of the month, I might have a story. I might have half a story. I might have exactly what I have now, or I might change the plot at the last minute (Maybe the aliens were just local cryptids! Maybe they were Greek gods! Maybe they never existed, and the whole thing was an elaborate security drill conducted by the US military!)

But whatever happens, I will have given it my all when I didn’t think I would be able to. How ever much of the novel I have in the end, it will be another year of proof that I am capable of somehow finding the time to fit 50,000 words into 30 days.

Whatever I have, on the morning of December 1st, it will be because I decided against all odds to try.