During the month of November, Taylor turned off her television, shut off her cellphone and locked her door to complete her challenge: writing 50,000 words in 30 days.
Taylor participated in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit organization who sponsors the contest each year. They send pep talks by email from many renowned writers, provide tips and tricks for completing a novel and send contest winners a certificate along with a chance to publish a copy of their book.
According to nanowrimo.org, “Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks and write on the fly.”
The first thing to figure out when participating in NaNoWriMo is a solid storyline.
“I’m kind of stuck right now, in my life. I don’t know where I’m going; I don’t know how to get there,” Taylor said. “The title is called Grow Up, Get Faith and Move On. I thought of it at work one night when I was doing dishes. I was thinking, ‘You know, it would be amazing if I could set a date, like 98 days in the novel, and just be like, ‘I’m going to grow up, get faith, and move on in this many days.”
It’s important to pick something that is easy to write about.
“Write about what you know,” Taylor said. “Don’t sit there and try to write about a fire-breathing dragon unless that’s what comes to you. In that case, write. The world needs your novel.”
When November begins, so does the typing frenzy. To reach 50,000 words, the writer must average 1,667 words per day. Though overwhelming at first, Taylor was able to reach her goal by avoiding distractions.
“I texted everybody I was texting, and said, ‘ok, I’m going to die for about an hour,’” Taylor said. “I tried it with my music, but I couldn’t handle it, and I tried it with the TV on, and it just didn’t work. The only bad thing about the computer is that there’s internet access. I definitely took advantage of Friday and Saturday nights, when everyone’s asleep, and I’d just sit there and write for a couple hours.”
The entire goal of NaNoWriMo is the output of words.
“Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap,” the organization notes on its website said. “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.”
Taylor used all her time to her advantage, including school.
“I’d sit there and write down ideas in school, and get home and write it. And if I wasn’t doing anything in a class, (I’ve got a pretty easy senior year), I’d go to the library and get 700 words there if I sat for 25 minutes uninterrupted.”
Taylor said her best advice to new Nanowrimos is to keep going, even when things look grim.
“I really just kept going, not looking at my word count. I told myself, ‘I’m just going to keep typing.’ So I just kept going, and before I knew it, I hit 50,000, and I was like, winner!”