NaNoWriMo – What It Is and Why You Should Join In
If you’re an aspiring novelist, but have yet to write your masterpiece, you might want to consider joining in with NaNoWriMo.
Say what? NaNoWriMo is short for “National Novel Writing Month” (though, technically, it’s international). Every November, writers around the world join in a fiction-writing frenzy, aiming to produce a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. This year is the tenth NaNoWriMo, so it’s a great time to get on board if you’ve always wanted to write a novel, but have never quite got around to it.
Are you up for the challenge? You can find out everything you could possibly want to know on the NaNoWriMo website, but here’s the quick run-down for those of you who’re in a hurry…
How it Works
The rules are pretty straightforward. The basics are that:
- You shouldn’t start your novel before November 1st
- You can send your novel to the site (it’s not stored anywhere or read, don’t worry) for word count validation
- You can’t collaborate with someone else to produce the 50,000 words – but if you get your friends involved writing their own novels, that’s great!
- You can write your novel on a computer or with pen and paper, but you obviously won’t be able to validate the wordcount if you’re using pen and paper…
- You need to be over 13 to register on the NaNoWriMo site. Under 18s (including kids under 13) can register for the Young Writers’ version.
Facts and Figures
- 50,000 words in 30 days is 1,667 words a day. If you look at it like that, it’s a challenging but achievable target. Depending on how fast you write, that’s probably 1 – 2 hours work.
- Last year, over 100,000 people signed up…
- …and 15,000 “won” by completing 50,000 words by midnight on November 30th.
I did NaNoWriMo last year, along with my boyfriend Paul and our mutual friend Nick. We all “won” by completing our novels by the end of the month. (Though I was the first to reach the 50,000 word target…)
It was a great experience, and I did try to finish and redraft my novel earlier this year, but eventually decided it was better seen as “practice” than a piece that would be worth further work.
I’d definitely recommend:
- Buy and read the excellent book No Plot? No Problem! by the founder of NaNoWriMo, Chris Baty — it’s a great guide to writing a book in a month, and it’s also incredibly funny.
- Get a partner, housemate or friend involved. It especially helps if the people who live with you understand why “making today’s wordcount” is more important than cooking dinner…
- Competing against your friends and loved ones will really spur you on through the tough spots.
- Don’t worry about the quality of your writing, just focus on getting to that 50,000 word target. (NaNoWriMo is not the best time to work on that wonderful idea you’ve been brooding over for years – try picking something new. If you care about it too much, you’ll get over-perfectionist.)
- Get as far ahead as you can in the first week … it’s awful playing catch-up later on.
- If you have a full-time job, try getting up early to write before work (my tactic) or writing through your lunch-hour (Nick’s tactic); it’s a lot easier than trying to pound out words in the evening when you’re tired.
- If you’re a student, try writing in your library (Paul’s tactic); you won’t have distractions like TV, computer games and the fridge nearby…
Finishing a novel is a fantastic feeling … and it’s something that most people in the world will never do, even those who want to be writers.
Have you ever done NaNoWriMo? How did you get on? Will you be taking part this year?
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