Why You Should Participate in NaNoWriMo This Year
What do Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, and Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series all have in common?
The answer: NaNoWriMo.
In case you’re new to this online phenomenon, National Novel Writing Month — affectionately known as NaNoWriMo — is an annual event during which aspiring authors challenge themselves to write 50 000 words over the month of November. Though it had humble beginnings as a contest between friends, NaNoWriMo is now a global juggernaut in the writing community, inspiring hundreds of thousands of writers each year to finally put pen to paper (or, more likely, fingers to keyboards). As of 2020, it has resulted in the creation of 367,913 complete novels and progress on so many more.
Sure, NaNoWriMo is not for everyone. But if you’ve been looking for an opportunity to get some writing done, this is it. After all, the best way to learn how to write a novel is to write one.
Below, I’ve broken down three reasons why NaNoWriMo is the perfect way to kickstart your writing.
· You can’t start writing your novel before November 1st (but you can start planning/outlining whenever you want).
· You can’t work on the novel with anyone else, but NaNoWriMo encourages you to challenge friends to write their own novel (a little competition is great for creativity).
·Writers must be over 13 to register, but no worries — NaNoWriMo has a Young Writers’ competition that is popular with schools.
· Send your novel to the website for word count validation — if you’ve exceeded the 50 000 word goal, congratulations! You have the beginnings of a book! Winners are awarded banners, certificates and each year there are prizes given out by sponsors: custom-designed covers for your book, extra deals on writing tools and software, you name it.
Writing every day
Writing an entire novel in a month sounds crazy, right? But really, it is doable.
To meet your goal, you’ll need to be working at an average output of 1667 words a day. Still a lot, sure, but manageable. Not to mention that having a goal when you sit down to write — I have to write 1667 words — can be a great way to focus and get some words down on the page. Writing something (anything) every day means that you’ll be one step closer to the finish line.
Even if what you produce during the month is not exactly your best work, you’ll find that the words come easier. Writing is a muscle and by exercising it daily over, you can start to develop better habits. Instead of waiting for fickle inspiration to strike, you can sit down and get straight to work.
Writing can be a lonely endeavour. Being trapped at your desk all day having conversations with the imaginary characters in your head is not exactly great for your social life.
But knowing that hundreds of thousands of people around the world are staring at their screen and trying to figure out that word on the tip of their tongue is? It helps.
The Wrimo community is fantastic for swapping tips, stories, struggles and just generally providing support and accountability for your writing journey. With forums, articles and IRL groups around the world, it is easy to find a group of like-minded people who are going through the same thing as you and advice for when you feel stuck.
Plus, a little bit of competition goes a long way for motivation, especially if you can rope some of your friends into working on their own novel.
Kill your inner editor
It kills me to say this (ha), but I’ll be the first to admit that editing is not exactly conducive to the writing process.
A first draft is all about telling yourself the story. Figuring out who the characters are, what they want, and how things should play out without restriction. Experimenting and taking some unexpected turns. Getting hung up on details and where punctuation needs to go is not going to help your creative flow and you don’t have time to be precious.
Sure, editing is what takes your story to the next level and you absolutely should not shop around a novel you wrote in 30 days without at least a little proofreading, but during NaNoWriMo? You have my permission —and more importantly, your own — to write whatever pops into your head, no matter how bad or disjointed.
This month, it’s all about getting a draft on the page, sand in a sandbox you can play around within the months following November. Structural editing, copyediting and proofreading can come later.
The truth is, NaNoWriMo is what most of us writers need: an excuse to dedicate time and effort to our craft. With all the other stuff we have going on in our lives — work, study, friends, family, the crushing responsibilities of adulthood — it can be difficult to justify taking some time to sit and focus on our passion.
Really, the hardest thing about writing is discipline and taking the time to write. So whether you write just 50 words or the full 50 000 (or even more, you little overachiever), NaNoWriMo is a great exercise for those who want to get serious about their practice.
If you need help shaping your NaNoWriMo novel into a success story, feel free to reach out! I have helped many authors with my editing and proofreading services and am always happy to tackle any challenge.