NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an annual even taking place all over the world in the month of November were participants come together and write a 50,000 word novel from the 1st to the 30th of November. It first began in 1999 with 21 participants gathering together and helping each other to write their own novels. By 2010 over 200,000 people were online taking part in the event. NaNoWriMo gives people the oppertunity to succeed as writers and to show that anyone can write a novel and that it doesnt have to take years to finish.
I sat down with writer Jessica Ball, 22 from Glasgow as she prepares for her second year at NaNoWriMo to get her thoughts and experiences shared from being apart of this world wide event.
1. Tell us what it was like the first time you joined NaNoWriMo
At first, it was TERRIFYING. Honestly, I remember this time last year, I was sitting in my car planning out my novel thinking “I can’t do this…”. It just sounds like so much, 50,000 words in 30 days, Madness! That feeling continued for a couple of days into it as well, seeing a word count of 6,000 and knowing you’ve got 44,000 to go is disheartening. But by attending write-ins and doing word wars on the chatroom, it’s amazing how much the competition racks up on your word count! Within the first 2 weeks I’d already done 36,000 words! The more you attend write-ins and the likes, the more you feel part of some elite group and the more you want to succeed, and eventually my story really did just flow through my fingers. It was honestly amazing.
2. What made you want to come back this year?
First and foremost, the fact that it drives me to actually write. I’m such a procrastinator it’s not even funny, but with the sheer competition of NaNo it’s impossible NOT to write; you constantly think to yourself ‘what if he/she gets a better word count than me by the end of it?!’ Of course that’s not the only reason, as I said above, being in a group of like-minded people is honestly the most amazing thing in the world. I’ve never been fully accepted anywhere – school, college, work, etc – but with the lovely Wrimos in the west of Scotland, I felt I truly belonged there, and that means more to me than anything.
3. How long have you been writing for and what sort of genre do you write?
I’ve been writing since I knew what a pen was. I remember when I was 6 or 7 years old, my dad worked from home, and my mum worked long, long hours in a care home. On the weekends, or school holidays, or even after school, with my dad in his office all the time, I’d sit downstairs bored out my head, so I’d go up to my dad’s office and ask him to give me something to write. He’d give me a general topic and I’d go write a story on it. It was better than the usual boring toys and things kids play with! Since then my eyes have been opened to what one would perhaps call a more depraved world, and thanks to that, the vast majority of my writing is based on psychology and general torment. I love writing about psychological turmoil and the physical actions people take because of them. If you ever read anything I write, prepare to be depressed! I write about people who DO exist, but who the majority of the population don’t want to think about existing.
4. Tell us about the novel you’ll be writing this year
Well, it’s very much still being planned out and worked on. I myself am not too sure right now what direction it’s going to go in really. Some would find that quite daunting, but I’m very much a NaNo ‘pantser’ – Someone who doesn’t really plan and let’s the characters tell the story. All I know is this – Two young adults, who have been in a relationship since high school, from the outside, look like the unbreakable bond. They’re strong together and from what others can see, nothing can stop them. However, when she meets an older man with a jaded view of the world, he drags her into his life and breaks her physically, mentally and emotionally. That’s all I know right now!
5. What sort of impact do you think Nano has made on young people hoping to become successful writers?
I think it tells young people that writing isn’t a solitary, depressing workload as many people believe it is, or that only depressed folk write, or ‘goths’, or anything like that. It is unfortunate that those stereotypes exist today, but I have unfortunately been hit with all of them. I believe a lot of young people have so much potential as a writer, but get dragged in to peer pressure to go out and ‘have fun’ and drink and so forth. I like to think NaNo promotes writing in a fun and mature way, without being old or boring. NaNo gives a new lease of life to the writing community, in my opinion.
6. What message do you think NaNoWriMo sends to people
It’s an amazing experience and something that evokes a sense of pride that more people should feel. It also gives people a safe haven, somewhere I personally never thought I would find. Sharing something personal, your inner thoughts essentially, with like-minded people, is amazing. NaNo proves that writers aren’t what they’re perceived to be on TV – we don’t claim that we’re above others, we don’t live in one bedroom studio flats claiming we don’t need a real job because we’re artists, but on the other hand we’re not all blessed with money and a cottage overlooking the sea where we retreat to to write. Of course, these writers DO exist, but NaNo proves to the world that you don’t have to be a stereotype to write a novel. I will never stop promoting NaNo to writers, old and new.
7. How has NaNo made you a better writer?
Before NaNo I didn’t really have much hope or faith in my writing, but having completed my novel last year and being generally pleased with the outcomes, it’s given me a much needed boost in confidence to actually go and do something with my creativity. I’ve been writing ‘seriously’ since I was 14, I’m 22 now and have never ever done anything with regards to my writing, too scared to even attend a creative writing class due to fear of being inadequate and stupid. Since completing NaNo last year, I’ve been given the confidence boost I’ve needed to hopefully open up my writing talents to the world. I call them talents, others may not, but the important thing is is that I have that confidence in myself, and NaNo gave me that.
8. Finally, what are you hoping to get out of this years NaNoWriMo?
I’m hoping to get even more writing friends, and a second novel I can be proud of! There’s nothing I want more than to be recognised as a writer. I’m not expecting fame or fortune, to become the next J.K.Rowling or E.L.James, but I do believe I have it in me to not just be another person going about my life. I’m very much a believer in ‘you only get one shot at life’, and I’m determined not to just float without a purpose. I’m hoping that NaNo will give me the backbone I need to progress further into the writing world, as well as get my website off the ground of course!
Follow Jessic at www.jessicawrites.co.uk