National Not Writing Month: 8 Reading Projects to Undertake in November while your Friends Are Busy Writing BY EMMA Gasperak
As far as I’m concerned, November is the unsung hero of the winter quarter of the calendar year. It doesn’t carry the same prestige as October and December, which have the almost unfair advantages of Halloween and Christmas, but in addition to Thanksgiving and the hilarity of our partners’ and family members’ No-Shave November beards, November promises late night writing extravaganzas and way too much espresso as writers celebrate National Novel Writing Month. My friends spend the whole year inventing potential story prompts that they usually don’t end up using. It’s an amazing month for them, and I have a great time watching and reading their progress, but as the only non-writer of the group, I end up with a lot of extra time on my hands while my friends are scribbling away. Consequently, November has become my month to undertake massive reading projects. If you’re looking for a project to fill your empty social calendar this month, consider joining me on one of these eight potential journeys.
1.) Book vs. Blockbuster
I think fell in love with the Jurassic Park film franchise when I was nine or ten, but I didn’t pick up the novel that started the dino-mania until two years ago. It broke into my top ten favorite novels before I’d finished the fifth chapter. I’ve since become captivated by the idea of choosing beloved blockbuster films and returning to the novels that inspired their existence. Skip this idea if you’re a book purist. Personally, I’m not a fan of insisting the book was better even if it was. It’s much more intriguing to say the book was different and explore why it was different. What choices did the writers, directors, and producers make that propelled their film to its eventual success? Would it have flopped without those choices? Choose five or ten titles, and fill a blog with your thoughts.
2.) Read the Harry Potter series (again).
Let’s be honest. I always want to read Harry Potter, and I don’t think that will ever change. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to follow my favorite boy wizard through 4200 pages of adventures as often as I’d like. November is our opportunity. Stop pretending that old Gryffindor hoodie isn’t hanging in the back of your closet, and find your way back to Platform 9 ¾.
3.) Read all the books you were supposed to read in your ninth grade English class.
I skipped ninth grade English. I’m not super smart or accomplished. It just worked out that way. But skipping that class meant I also skipped the segment of high school English that focuses on all of those amazing books that frequent summer reading lists. Catcher in the Rye, Animal Farm, The Bell Jar, The Great Gatsby. Yup, I skipped all of them, and although I was enraged, I never had the time to add them into my reading list. There were too many assignments and too many other amazing books to read. November’s a great opportunity to work through books you may have missed over the years, whether you skipped a class or slept through it.
4.) Work your way through an intricate coloring book.
Adult coloring books have been warmly accepted into the hearts of bookworms over the last few years, but life is busy and sometimes it's difficult to justify coloring as a worthwhile activity. Stop trying to justify it. Buy the coloring book you’ve been eyeing for weeks, and work your way through every page. Add some wine, and your November suddenly sounds extremely inviting.
5.) Read Ulysses
Admit it. You’ve always wanted to read it even just to prove you could. Choose a book that’s always terrified you, and read it from cover to cover. We believe in you.
6.) Develop your dramatic side.
One of the best parts of being a college student is having access to knowledge that normally wouldn’t influence your life. History students can take sign language classes. Aspiring anthropologists can take dance classes. I miss having the ability to learn something new every semester. I majored in English, but I took advantage of my university’s theater department by taking a few drama classes, one of which was more theoretical than practical. Spending a semester reading and analyzing plays and then travelling with my class to see productions of those plays was such a magical experience for me. I’m determined to read and attend a play this November. Feel free to join me on this adventure if it’s something you think you’d enjoy.
7.) Feed your fanfiction addiction.
Everyone has different opinions about fanfiction. Some people love it. Others hate it. If you fall somewhere between those two groups, consider spending some time with it this month. It’s a great way for you to scribble your way through November if you secretly want to join the writing mania but feel too overwhelmed by endless possibility. Scribble to your heart’s content by creating an adventure for characters that already exist.
8.) Reorganize your bookshelves.
Rationally, this shouldn’t be a month-long project, but bookworms are rarely rational creatures when their ink and paper companions are involved. We’re all attached to our books, but even the best arrangements need refreshed every once in a while.
Write a Novel This November! NaNoWriMo 2015: What Is It, and How Do I Do It?
You probably want to write a novel. Most people do. For some people, it’s something to check off the bucket list. For others, it’s a life-long dream. Some people aspire to be a published novelist, while others simply want to write a book, even if it’s just for themselves. Regardless of what your specific dream entails, writing a novel is an incredibly daunting task. Fortunately, Chris Baty founded NaNoWriMo in 1999, thereby turning this impossible fantasy into an achievable task.
NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is an annual, month-long event that takes place every November, and it is the catalyst that generates full-length novels from both new and experienced authors each year. The goal is to write 50,000 words in November. You open your blank document and begin on November 1, and on the thirtieth by 11:59pm, you are a novelist. To participate, all you have to do is set up a free account at nanowrimo.org, and then announce your new novel! NaNo prep is already happening on the website: pep talks, forums, advice, etc. The NaNo community is preparing for the upcoming month-long writing extravaganza. To win NaNoWriMo, all you have to do is write 50,000 words. Everyone who does this is declared a winner, and you get a fancy virtual badge!
Think you can’t possibly write 50,000 words in thirty days? Don’t worry! Several tools exist to help you conquer this seemingly impossible-to-climb mountain. The first is the website itself. It has a handy tracker that tells you where your word count should be each day in order to stay on track. You enter your current word count, and you get to see the graph reflect the work you’ve done and the progress you’ve made, which is extremely encouraging and satisfying. There are forums on the website in which you can talk with other writers and inspire each other and cheer each other on. Need help figuring out the perfect surname for your protagonist? Feeling overwhelmed? Need help with some research? Running out of steam? The people on the forums are happy to help with all of this and more. It’s an extremely supportive and motivating community of writers, and it’s an invaluable source for your NaNo experience.
If 50,000 words still seems out of reach to you, keep in mind that it translates to only 1,667 words a day. That is totally manageable! You can do that, I promise! Here are some sources that can get you pumping out those words:
I have participated in NaNoWriMo three times, and I won each time. Here is the best piece of advice I can give: don’t think; just write. NaNoWriMo is not about producing a polished and perfect work of literature. It’s about writing the damn book. The goal is to get the first draft done, and the first draft is the hardest part. As Terry Pratchett said, “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” You don’t have a story until you write it. Now is your chance to write it. Do not waste time trying to make it as beautiful and perfect as possible. You should not do a single revision during this month. Do not go back to the words you’ve already written at all. Only move forward. If you do this, you’ll have a first draft of your book by the end of the month, and a first draft is a physical thing with which you can work. After November, you can begin your revisions. At this point, you’ll have achieved an amazing accomplishment, and you’ll be well on your way to completed manuscript.
Good luck, and happy writing!
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