No, it’s not the sound a weird robot makes when it’s broken (though now I bet you’re all trying to say it out loud and now sound like a robot yourself, or maybe that’s just me?).

It stands for National Novel Writing Month, a challenge undertaken by writers across the globe (so why is it called National? I don’t know and if you do, please let me know) to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

The coffee is instrumental.

The coffee is instrumental.

Back in 1999 while the rest of the world was spazzing about the impending Y2K ‘crisis’, 21 writers sat down to write, starting what would become NaNoWrMo. This year there over 262,000 participants signed up on the website – and I’ve joined them!

Heard of it? Started as a NaNoWrMo novel.

Heard of it? Started as a NaNoWrMo novel.

I’d heard of NaNoWrMo in university when some writer friends partook, but at the time I didn’t even consider it, or even think of it as something I would want to do. I have always like writing; when I was younger I spent hours writing short stories on our chunkster of a computer, though I didn’t show them to anyone (a trend I don’t think I will be breaking with this month’s endeavor).

Fast-forward to university when I didn’t have much time for writing other than academic papers (and a student in the humanities, there were a lot of them) ending with the hugest of all, my final honors thesis in archaeology. Not to mention that I worked, fenced, swing danced, commuted, and attempted to have a social life all while living in the city that never sleeps (and most of the time I didn’t either). Needless to say, creative writing was on the severe back-burner, and I never even realized I had put it there.

Then I moved to Spain and started this blog, mainly to keep my family and friends updated on my life. I thought it would be good to be held accountable for writing about my experiences, as I didn’t want this to be another trip I took where I wrote nothing down and the second I returned wished that I had. In blogging, I reawakened the creative writer (and photographer!) in me that I had forgotten, that had been lying dormant since starting university.

So when NaNoWrMo rolled around this year, I thought to myself, ‘Why not just do it?!’ Like I said, never considered writing a novel before, but I don’t know when I’ll ever have so much free time again, and what better way to brush away those cobwebs in the writer portion of my brain than an intense, 30 day marathon. Besides, I can’t say no to a good competition, even if it is with myself.

Part of me says I shouldn’t be spending this much time alone and inside when I’ve just moved to another country, but another other part of me says hey – I moved here for me, so I’m going to write for me! (Note: I’m not a complete recluse – see photo below). Also, look at all these awesome writers who were also expats. Maybe there’s something to be said for writing when you’re not on your home turf.

Headed to my Retiro Park to do some writing yesterday. Peaceful until a children's puppet show was set up 20 feet from my bench.

Headed to Retiro Park to do some writing yesterday. Peaceful until a children’s puppet show was set up 20 feet from my bench.

Since I’m doing this as a personal challenge, I’m not going to post excerpts like many other bloggers are doing. I’m not looking to get a draft to later be edited and sent to a publisher, and I’m not looking to share whatever I end up with. But NaNoWrMo is about taking a plunge no matter what level you are at, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. It’s about getting words on the page, words that can be reworked (and reworked and reworked) later. At 1,667 words a day, I think I can rise to the occasion. I’ll try not to skip my weekly post here. (And hopefully that determined optimism will stick with me all the way to the 30th, though when the first round of writer’s block strikes, I suspect it won’t!)

The last time I did some creative writing - a postcard on my trip to Eastern Europe in 2010

The last time I did some creative writing – a postcard on my trip to Eastern Europe in 2010

Anyone other first time participants in NaNoWrMo? Or maybe NaBlPoMo (National Blog Posting Month – write one post a day)? Maybe it’s time to get back into that hobby you’ve forgotten about, whether it’s writing or not!


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