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You are here: Home > Young Writers' Hub > Blog > NaNoWriMo; Or, Why You Should Write a Novel in November
NaNoWriMo; Or, Why You Should Write a Novel in November
There’s an idea going around that “everyone has one novel in them”. But if that’s true, why do hardly any of us ever end up writing one? asks Hazel Impy

There’s an idea going around that “everyone has one novel in them”. But if that’s
true, why do hardly any of us ever end up writing one? We all have a little idea or two
locked up inside us – the words she said to him, the mysterious injury, the explanation
for that strange sound in the night – but these ideas never really surface. We have our
reasons, of course; reasons like “my idea’s not original enough”, “I don’t know how
to write well”, “I’d never get it published”, or even just “I’m waiting for the right

The thing is, if you listen to those reasons, chances are you’ll never write anything. In
a world of thousands if not millions of published authors, your idea has probably been
done before. Unless you’re some kind of genius, if you’re writing for the first time
you’re not going to do it very well. The likelihood of you getting your very first novel
published is very low. And it’s never going to be the right moment.
But guess what? These aren’t reasons, they’re excuses.
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, an international event that
started in 1999 and takes place every November. It challenges participants to write
fifty thousand words of prose – a novel – in thirty days. That’s approximately 1,667
words per day. I’ve done it twice, in 2009 and 2010. Both years I was frantically
busy; essays due, parents visiting, long rehearsals. And both years I met the target,
with 50,016 words in 2009 and 50,008 words in 2010. If I can do it, why can’t you?

My two novels were nothing special; in fact they are and always will be un-
publishable, being Harry Potter fanfiction (more on that another time). But they were
written in a thirty-day caffeine-and-sugar-fuelled rush of deadlines and insanity, and
in amongst the random dream sequences and awkwardly written dialogue there are
some sections that I’m really proud of. And this year, I’m planning to write my first
piece of original fiction.

NaNoWriMo taught me something very important: I can only write well by
writing badly first. Being the perfectionist that I am, it took the exhausting battle
of November to really learn to keep writing and not look back until I’m done. And
although I may have spent most of December recovering, it’s April now and I’m
already itching for the autumn. I have pen and paper, a laptop and an imagination, and
this year I’m going to write a novel.

And who knows, maybe something of what I’ll write will one day be published....

Extract from Hazel's NaNoWriMo efforts:

An elusive thread of white light, flickering just in the corner of his vision, but every
time he turned his head it vanished. He span around and around, trying to see it, but
it was impossible. It had disappeared as though it had never existed.

“I can see anything!” he yelled in frustration. But then he saw his reflection and he
saw his eyes –

His white, blind, eyes.

Orion awoke with a strangled cry. He lay on his back in his room, breathing hard,
eyes wide. There were footsteps on the landing outside, and the door to his room
opened tentatively.

“Ori, are you alright?” Zak asked warily, taking a cautious step into the room. Orion
ignored his uncle and jumped up from the bed, all but running out of the room to the
bathroom to look at himself in the mirror.

When he got there, he gazed at his own reflection, staring into his own eyes. Black, as
ever. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Most people said you couldn’t have completely black eyes, just really dark brown or
blue, but Orion’s were a deep, inky black. Black, not the milky white of his dream.
Definitely black.


Zak had entered the bathroom behind him. Orion could see his reflection behind
Orion’s own shoulder. His expression was concerned.

“Are you okay?” Zak asked again.

Orion paused before answering with a certainty he didn’t feel.

“I’m fine, Uncle Zak; just a weird dream,” he said. “Sorry for waking you up.”

After a moment, Zak nodded, and left Orion alone. Orion waited until he heard his
uncle’s bedroom door close before leaning in to the mirror, examining each eye
minutely. He couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something wrong with them.
After finding nothing for another few minutes, he gave up reluctantly, and headed
back to his room. But it was a long time before he slept properly.

Hazel Impey is a young writer based at York St John. Why not add your extracts and experiences from NaNoWriMo below?