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National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month

Learning Myself Through My Writing Goals

By Tanela Hicks

                My history with National Novel Writing Month is a little give and take; love and hate. Just like getting use to a new car, or understanding a new computer system, it took a while, but we finally understand our role in each other’s life. NaNo (as it is affectionately called) is there to be a motivator and a tool to help drive my writing career and I am here to use it. Simple.

Just as an overview, NaNo to me is the celebration and awareness of the craft of writing. There is an entire culture that pushes you to meet your writing goals throughout the year. There are camps for young writers, weekly encouragement from published authors, and tons of advice. During the month of November specifically it is “Campaign Time”. To keep it simple, if you are participating in the organization sponsored activities, you can enter a contest to complete 50,000 words in 30 days. At the end of the month you can submit what you have written for critiques, publishing help, and more. This contest not only serves as incentive, but drives project productivity. It’s a wonderful opportunity and totally free…or not use.

My first year being a part of the NaNo community I was very excited. Being the over organized person I am, I made a word count spread sheet to compare against their suggested rate of process. Yes, there are formulas, and programming in this spreadsheet that automatically told me the messages like “Great Job” when I meet my daily goal or things like “Words Waiting” when I slacked off.


When I started in November 2013 with the NaNo, I actually had already completed the bulk of what “Dreams of the Heart” would come to be putting me well past the 50,000 benchmark the website set. So my big goal was to write every day. As you can see I did not succeeded at that, but overall I was thoroughly invigorated with the creativity process. I ended the month with approximately 18,000 thousand words and completed my first rough draft. Then came 2014 and I hit a huge drought. “Dreams of the Heart” draft one was complete and I was deep into rewrites. There were many complications, but my biggest headache was deciding on the level of adult content. The main character and I “fell out” multiple times the first half of the year over elements of the story that needed to be PG edited. As a true woman of faith and a new deacon’s wife it was very hard to determine what was right and what was wrong. I ultimately learned through experience and prayer to let the story direct your path no matter what. Once I settle on that school of thought, me and “Jamice”; main character of “Dreams of the Heart” become best buds again and my massive rewrite moved forward.

Writing novels, short stories, articles, or anything creative is not an easy task and those that can or even try to do it are special people. Reflecting back on my beginnings with NANO and “Dreams of the Heart” makes me smile and thank God for this talent that he has given me. I have learned so many lessons. I have applied advice received from that community and others to my two projects still in progress. Surrounding myself in a community of like-minded writers; all pushing towards similar goals, truly helped propel me to complete my first novel. If you are looking for a guide or catalyst this year for your writing try it. I will not guarantee you will hit the mark of 50,000 words, but you will learn something about your writing and a lot about yourself.

For more information on National Novel Writing Month Click Here

Happy Writing!

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