How I wrote a book in 30 days


Photo by: Caroline Kidd

In just thirty days, I wrote over 55,000 words in a novel I wrote in part with NaNoWriMo.

During the month of November, a time of giving thanks and falling leaves, I found myself participating in a unique novel-writing contest through NaNoWriMo. This nonprofit organization stands for National Novel Writing Month, which challenges interested writers to craft a fifty-thousand-word novel in just thirty short days. Wannabe authors have the entire month to cram as many of their thoughts onto blank pages in hopes of creating a legible novel come November 30. I first heard of NaNoWriMo from James Galloway, a classmate of mine on the publication team, who announced that he was writing an article about students who were participating in the thirty-day challenge.

As someone who always fathomed the art of writing, I began to question Galloway about the logistics of the contest. The thought of finally writing a novel intrigued me. It had been a goal of mine, however, I never expected to write one during my senior year of high school, let alone in one month.

It was November 1 when I originally heard of the contest, and I was already at a disadvantage. Prospective authors from all across the globe had already spent the entirety of “Preptober” drafting ideas and formulating plots, characters, titles, and chapters for countless hours on end. As November hit, those who had been planning for weeks were off to the races, while I sat still, blanking for ideas.

I spent the entirety of my English class that day scribbling ideas onto a blank piece of paper, and by the end of class, I had a decent list of plausible ideas. However, I couldn’t start writing. Not yet.

As a high schooler, I have a hustling schedule that consists of school seven hours a day, followed by an hour of cross country, then proceeded by work from five to ten every few nights. On the nights I don’t work, I am either at Leadership on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, at church for the entirety of Sunday morning, or cramming in my piling homework and college applications.

I began to question how I would find the time to write a novel. It was a challenge, yet I was tempted to press my luck. My main priority was to eliminate homework from my schedule. Whenever I was handed work in class, I rushed to efficiently complete it so I could get back to typing. Every free minute of my school day was spent eagerly typing what seemed like a thousand words a minute. Smoke practically steamed from my keyboard as my fingers became typing machines. Whenever I was forced to close my computer and pay attention to the teacher’s lessons, I always found myself internally screaming, just longing to keep writing.

After a month full of typing, plotting, backspacing and editing, my novel finally came together at over 250 pages. It will hopefully be available for purchase in the near future. (Photo by: Caroline Kidd)

After the second day of the competition, I finally settled on the plot of my novel. I wanted to write something true, yet captivating. I started by interviewing a classmate of mine who had been sent to the deserts of Utah where she spent the next two years living off nothing but the supplies on her back. It is part of the Troubled Teen Industry, a topic I knew little about. She explained her entire upbringing to me, surviving the horrors of a therapeutic boarding school in a curriculum known as “tough love.”

It wasn’t an easy topic to write about, and I knew it would require several hours of research and interviews. Hours I simply did not have. The more she talked, the more I realized just how abstract the topic was. After I finished interviewing her, I immediately took to writing.

I was able to divide fifty thousand words into thirty days, which set me at almost 1,500 words every day. At first, I underestimated how long it would take me to write a thousand words, but by the end of the month, it became natural, and I let my fingers do the rest of the work.

For the next twenty-eight days, I spent every spare minute of school and work typing notes on my phone and on scrap pieces of paper until the end of November, when all my loose ends came together to create what is now my 55,000+ word novel.

It was truly an astonishing moment I never thought possible. There it was, all 250 pages in all its glory, my book. I received a certificate for completing the contest, and have now moved on to the more treacherous part of writing a book: editing and revising.

Will it be a best-seller? I can only hope, but in reality, it will likely go unread. However, knowing that something of mine is lingering in the wild for the public absolutely thrills me. All I know is that this is just the beginning, and the best is yet to come.

Looking back, I would have never thought I was going to spend my entire month writing an entire novel. It was something I had dreamed of pursuing since I was young, and now it seems my life’s bucket list is one step closer to completion. My message to prospective authors out there is: just do it! The novel writing contest pushed me to complete a goal I had been prolonging for years. Ultimately, I learned that November doesn’t have to be the only national writing month. Instead, it can be every month, because you never know the potential that lies within until you take the first step to sit down and start writing. 

My book will hopefully be available for purchase in the near future. Stay tuned.