National Novel Writing Month 2016 – Let's Do This

Anushka Mehrotra  //  Nov 1, 2016

National Novel Writing Month 2016 – Let's Do This

Well friends, it’s that time of year again - the time all struggling writers come together to try and complete a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. Even though the goal is the same, every year each of my participating friends have vastly different experiences from
one another. So, instead of simply having me tell you about my own journey through this arduous writing challenge, I decided to gather a few friends both on and off the OOM team to walk you through their experiences. 

Today, on Day One of NaNoWriMo, here are what each of us hope to get out of the challenge:

Liz: This will be my first year participating in NaNoWriMo, and I look forward to what I am sure will be an excellent struggle to reach the goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. My hope is that it will push me to finish a novel that I have been working on for the past two years. It is a story very close to my heart. I wrote a first draft over a year ago, and am now in the process of rewriting it. Usually, I am a messy writer, always have been. I write sporadically, intuitively, and with minimal outlining. Despite my seemingly preferred method of having no specific method at all, I think this will be an excellent opportunity to explore a new way of writing.

I had been tempted, in the past, to participate in NaNoWriMo, but I kept putting it off for one reason or another, whether it was because of school, my social life, or perhaps simply because of some innate aversion I had to the idea of writing on a schedule. However, I recently befriended another writer who suggested we try it together, and so I have made a decision to temporarily set aside my messy ways and give NaNoWriMo a real shot. I look forward to sharing this experience with my friend and fellow writer, and with everyone else participating this year.

Anushka: Every single year I’ve told myself that I will be doing NaNoWriMo, and every single year I forget until it’s halfway through the month, and I’m hitting myself  thinking not again, you idiot. This year I wasn’t about to let that happen. This year, I gathered a group of my peers and insisted that we all do this together, not only so that I don’t forget, but also so that I have people to encourage me to keep my daily words up.

The novel I’m going to be working on for NaNoWriMo is a novel that I’ve been working on since my last year of college, though the idea has been infesting my thoughts since long before then. I wrote the first five chapters as my college thesis, and have since completed almost 70k words. This may sound impressive, but I promise you, the novel is really a complete mess of characters and scenes, with no real plot direction. I’m hoping that NaNoWriMo gets me back into a consistent writing schedule, and I’m also hoping that the more I advance my plot, the easier it will be for me to figure out which direction I need to take the novel in. But to be totally honest, the thing I’m looking forward to the most is being a part of an active writing community again.


Deimosa: Here we are... year four of my National Novel Writing Month journey, and year three of working on THE SAME MANUSCRIPT. I realize that the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write an entire book in one month, but for me it has turned into the one month a year that I work on my novel! This is fine. At a ~5 chapter a year pace at least I will finish before I retire. It’s also important to note that I didn’t achieve the goal I set last December, which was to reread Steven King’s On Writing over the year, however, I am midway through a new writing guide – The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults – penned by one of our great editors here at Scholastic, Cheryl Klein.

So, last December, you may recall, I made up a rubric to assess your NaNoWriMo performance and generously gave myself a B-. Finishing up the chapters that I outlined in 2014, I then added two more: “The Legend of the BQE” and “Message to Diverse Youth” (yes, it is a play on my second favorite Malcolm X speech). This year, continuing my obsession with catchy chapter headings, I have come up with five new gems. I will give you ONE: “The Casual Freelancer”, which is of course a play on J.K. Rowling’s novel The Casual Vacancy. I am not sure what’s going to happen in that chapter, but since I am writing a hi-li-sci-fi (historical literary science fiction) adventure story I am sure it will be fantastically ridiculous.


NaNoWriMo logo courtesy of, Book Cover courtesy of W.W.Norton