National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is coming up fast. What is NaNoWriMo? Glad you asked! NaNoWriMo is basically a personal goal of writing 50,000 words of fiction in the month of November. That's 30 days. That's 50,000 words in 30 days. Fifty-thousand.
And...why would you want to do that? Because it could be great fun. Because it's good for the brain. Because it gets you away from the television and doing something creative. In a way, it's good therapy. I'm sure a good number of you reading this article has at least had the fleeting thought of writing a book. Well, now could be no better a time to do it.
And, for NaNoWriMo, it's not about actually completing a novel in 30 days. It's really about the act of writing. It's about exploring your creativity by sticking to a set writing goal, in this case a 50,000 word novel. It's about quantity over quality. 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. Think about it, the more you apply yourself to anything, the more you are likely to succeed.
Yes, it's still a hefty goal. It's still a lot of words, a 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. And yes, you get bragging rights!
Furthermore, rest assured, you are in good company. In 1999, NaNoWriMo started from just 21 participants taking this 50,000 word challenge. Soon after, word spread and the numbers grew larger every year. Last year, there were over 325,000 participants. And, there have been a good number of success stories to come out of NaNoWriMo. As of last year, 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 first drafts begun through NaNoWriMo.
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 Diana Gabaldon, Charlaine Harris, and N. K. Jemisin. 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's claim November 2015!