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It’s that time of year again! For all of you who immediately started thinking about the holidays, sorry, but you’ll have to wait another month. November is known as National Novel Writing Month, or best known by authors as NaNoWriMo. This month is dedicated to all the aspiring writers out there who might be looking for a bit of encouragement to begin their writing journey, or to continue it. A challenge is presented each year: from November 1st to November 30th, you must write 50,000 words of either a new novel or the first 50,000 words of a novel that you intend to finish later. If you reach that benchmark by the end of the month or have surpassed, you have officially won the challenge. For those participating in the challenge for the first time, writing 50,000 words in a month can be a daunting task. These are some tips that can help you navigate the writing process this month and the road blocks you may encounter along the way. 

How to start:

Brainstorming: one of the most difficult parts of the writing process. There is always the pressure to find the perfect and most extraordinary idea for a novel before diving into the drafting stage. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, any idea you come up with will work for a novel. Go crazy with your ideas. Have fun with them. Try a new genre that excites you. Combine multiple ideas to create a completely unique plot line. Most importantly, ask yourself what you would like to see in your story. Sometimes, good ideas will emerge by contemplating what your readers may want to see, but great ideas will always stem from what the heart desires.

Planning vs Spontaneity:

This is one of the aspects of story-telling that is distinctive for each writer. It really depends on what you are more comfortable with. If you like visualizing what you’re about to write ahead of time, then you should develop an outline. Start by building the plot: who is the protagonist, what is the situation, what is his/her objective, and what obstacles will he/she encounter along the way? You should also be constructing a timeline of all the major events that will take place and write small summaries of some scenes. Next is crafting the setting the story will take place. This will involve lots of research, from finding photographs to formulating descriptions. Then you can delve into creating character profiles, which describe specific traits of your characters, such as physical attributes, personality, habits, etc. If you’re the type of person that can plunge into writing a story regardless of where you left off then you don’t need outlines. As long as you have a rough idea of what direction you want to take the story in, that is more than sufficient for you. Though I still suggest writing some ideas down, just in case you forget them and want to reference them in the future.  

Writer’s Block:

Every writer’s worst nightmare. But fear not, because there are some simple ways to combat this common problem. For starters, you can change your environment. If you’ve been sitting down and writing at your desk for the past hour and haven’t managed to make a dent in the story, then you can just move to the living room, or better yet go to your favorite coffee shop and write there. Sometimes, it’s best to take a break from your writing and that can be done in multiple ways. My favorite one though is just taking a walk around the neighborhood since you can relax and not worry about the impending dilemma waiting for you on your laptop. It’s also a great way to freshen up your mind and get those creative juices flowing. Talking about why you’re stuck on a specific section with other writers or friends is a great outlet as well because you can bounce ideas off of each other until you find one that best suits your tastes.

Time Management:

Writing a novel in 30 days can be an arduous activity, especially if there are other responsibilities that require your attention such as work, extracurriculars, and classes. One way to solve this is by writing 1,700 words daily. By breaking the task down into smaller chunks, you will be able to allocate some time for it in your day and have time to juggle other priorities that require your attention.  

The best aspect of NaNoWriMo is being able to connect with other writers and be part of a larger community. Along with it, take this month as an opportunity to explore your creative writing flair. Learning your strengths and weaknesses now, can be a beneficial asset for when you’re working on your future stories. Even if you don’t reach the 50,000 word minimum, just remember that there’s always next year to try again and any progress is good progress.

Sharupa Azmal

St. John's '24

Sharupa Azmal is a sophomore who is majoring in Pharmacy at St. John’s University. Besides writing for Her Campus, she finds herself journaling or blogging frequently. Her other pastimes include reading books and webtoons, watching movies (yes Bollywood films are included), and dragging her friends on little trips throughout New York City.
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