Be a Novelist by the End of November

Sebastian’s Team Pick:

Have you ever wanted to write a novel? Has anyone ever told you you should be a writer? Has anyone ever called you self-involved? Do you jot down “creative ideas” in a moleskine or like to spend hours at an old fashioned typewriter? If you answered yes to any of the above, then you should probably write a novel this month. I’m going to!

Everyone looks cool when they're writing a novel! (image from the back cover of Eileen Myles' A Fresh Young Voice From the Plains)

Just like last year, November is National Novel Writing Month, or as the hip kids call it NaNoWriMo. And NaNoWriMo has a campaign to help all of us (recent) aspiring-novelists get those words flowing. They challenge you to write a 50,000-word novel between Nov 1 and Nov 31 at 11:59:99 PM.

[It’s] a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

If you sign up at you get to update and track your word count online, you’ll receive pep talks from published authors, and you have access to the forums (and seriously there is a forum for everything – are you a queer chick looking to write queer scifi – forum for that…. single 20-something writing historic fiction? forum for that!) and regional groups. Plus the regional groups have meetups for caffeine-fueled writing sessions. And if you meet the 50k word goal, your name gets added to the official list of NaNoWriMo winners!

If none of this is selling you on the campaign, just think of how sexy you’ll sound when you tell women (or whatever gender you’re pursuing at the time) that you’re working on a novel. Think about it. Yeah, now you’re on board.

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Sebastian has written 16 articles for us.


  1. Doing it! I’m up to ~8500 words and plan on pushing myself all the way to 50,000 because I’m tired of my job and want some supplemental income to do things that I love.

    Also just self-published a book of my poetry, which’s cool and makes me feel naked, but it’s cool. That was an excellent kick-start to forcing myself to write more.

  2. I’m doing NaNoWriMo as well. I hesitated to say anything until after the kick-off because I’ve had some spectacular fails at it in the past… but this year I seem to have kept up my word count so far, so I’m cautiously optimist.

    I’m married, so I don’t need the pick up lines, but I hope it works for you guys! :)

  3. I’ve heard of this, it’s pretty cool. There’s also one of these things where you are challenged to record an entire album in a month or a song a day or something. Sometimes it is boundaries that really let our boundless creativity flow! I think I remember Mr. O’Neill telling Daria something like that once. Hah.

  4. So I’m taking the challenge a little differently and settling my goal to OUTLINE an entire Graphic Novel Script. Like, a big one. This is a challenge as my outlines are nearly full working scripts , so it’s still a lot of writing on my part.

  5. Every year I plan to do this. EVERY YEAR. And every single year my professors, eager to crush my aspirations, assign a ridiculous amount of work to me so that my creative flower will never blossom.

    CURSE YOU UNIVERSITY! I will have my revenge.

  6. I love NaNoWriMo! It’s really the best sort of thing to get the words flowing and there is a definite deadline that people like me need. This is my second year participating and I really hope to win again.

  7. Ahhh, NaNo. This is my second year doing NaNo, and my first year actually getting beyond the first day.
    Even though I’m only slightly above the daily goal, I am still proud of myself. Baby steps… Baby steps.

  8. I’m doing this! Although it’s the fifth day and I just reached 2000 words (I need 1667 a day.) And I’m working Saturday, so I’ll be cramming all Sunday. Also this is exam month for me.

    I (stupidly) told myself that if I can get this done, no matter how shitty the book, I will let myself consider a career in writing, instead of going with a safe choice.

    Seriously mad at myslef for saying that right now…

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