November is coming up quick, and for many that means one thing - NaNoWriMo. Yes, November is National Novel Writing Month. So, the time is now to gather your ideas, get your writing tools in order, and start thinking of outlines.
If you don't know about NaNoWriMo, it's basically a personal goal of writing 50,000 words of fiction in the month of November. That's 50,000 words in just 30 days! Almost sounds insane, doesn't it?
This challenge initially started in 1999 with just 21 participants, and as word spread, the numbers grew larger every year. Last year, there were over 380,000 participants. And, there have been a good number of success stories to come out of NaNoWriMo, as over 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published, including Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants. On the NaNoWriMo website, you can find a full listing of traditionally-published, and self-published works that came out of NaNoWriMo.
Now, of course, you won't actually have a complete and polished novel after 30 days, but you'll certainly be off to a great start. What you'll come out of November with will realistically just be a rough draft you'll have to revisit and rework. And, you may very well come out of November with a whole lot of rubbish. But, you'll quite possibly have something that may be totally worth the revisit, even if it is just a small portion of good material to springboard from. And NaNoWriMo is really more about the act of writing - exploring your creativity by sticking to a set writing goal.
NaNoWriMo, above all, is really just great fun. It's a way to get you from the television, or other mindless activity, and doing something really creative. I'm sure a good number of you reading this article has at least had the fleeting thought of writing a book. Well, NaNoWriMo may just be the kick in the pants you need to get to work and hammer out that story that's been building inside your head.
Yes, 50,000 words in 30 days is still a mighty goal. It's still an awful lot of writing. And, taking this challenge is certainly not going to guarantee you'll be a published author. But, imagine the sense of accomplishment!
So, how does it all work?
Well, first you go to the NaNoWriMo website, sign up and complete your profile. There you can include, if you wish, all the info on the novel you are attempting, like genre, a working title, synopsis, etc. Throughout November you will be able to keep track of your current word count and measure how you're doing on your profile page.
Next, by selecting your region, you will get updates on local support events taking place near you. There are volunteer Municipal Liaisons that will organize these events, being perhaps a kick-off party, write-ins at local libraries, etc. It's good fun to meet up with others likely just as insane taking this challenge.
Then, on November 1st, start writing. Although, prior to November, you certainly can think about what you will be writing, and possibly even prepare a good outline. There are good resources on the NaNoWriMo website for preparing for the month ahead available here.
During the month of November, you have access to forums with other participants worldwide that are there to help out with advice and camaraderie. You will also be treated with inspirational pep talks delivered to you from published authors throughout November to help keep your momentum. This year's pep talk authors include Roxane Gay, Kevin Kwan, Julie Murphy, and Grant Faulkner. You can read the pep talks from authors featured in past years here.
Then, beginning November 20th, if you have reached the 50,000-word goal, you can submit your novel text to claim your win. Novels are verified for word count through auto-verification software and none of your text is actually saved on the website.
Following a November win, January and February are what they call the "Now What?" months, where you'll find plenty of support at the NaNoWriMo website for the revision and publishing process. You can find the archive of past revision and publishing resources here.
There are no official prizes awarded for reaching the 50,000-word goal, but you do get a printable certificate and a darn good dose of self-accomplishment.
Sound groovy? Then let us charge full-steam into November!